Bribing Children

Eat your vegetables and then you can have some ice cream.

Clean your room and I’ll give you a dollar.

Open your mouth for the dentist and you can have some candy. (Yes, I see the irony in that one.)

We tend to bribe our children to perform in a certain way. I’m sure there are some of you who are going to deny this. You’re probably talking back to your screen right now, saying something like, “NO. I’m teaching my children about compensation or cause and effect.” Well, that may also be true, but… the reality is – it is a form of bribery.

I’m not going to be all high and mighty and say I never do this. In fact, a most recent visit to the doctor involving trying to get a child to show the doctor some parts involved some bribery. It occurred to me, this is the same tactic a child abuser would use.

Come with me and I’ll let you see my kitten.

Don’t tell anyone and I’ll buy you a nice new toy.

So, then, what is the solution? How do we get our kids to do what’s right without bribery or threats of punishment?

My parents were the master of “The Look.” But even that had a negative connotation to it. It implied that you had something waiting for you when you got home and it sure as heck wasn’t an ice cream cone.

We’ve been listening to the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University lessons again. (If you haven’t gone to one of these classes, you should.) He talks about certain chores being essential, unpaid tasks that a child is required to perform just because they are part of the household – like putting your dish in the sink. Then, there are the larger chores that he pays his kids to do. He says this is not allowance, but a commission. The chores must be done – and if they aren’t, they don’t get paid. If we go to work and just show up, we don’t get a paycheck. He says it’s important for kids to know that and learn it early.

If we’re not bribing our kids and not threatening our kids and not paying our kids for tasks – what are we doing? What is the tactic in your household?


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stephanie B.
    May 05, 2013 @ 10:21:13

    When I was growing up we got an allowance, just because. But we also had chores that related to our age, like cleaning up the back yard after the dogs or taking the trash out, and of course cleaning our rooms. We also got bonuses, if we helped our parents do something with out being asked to do so we got extra money with our allowance. But it wasn’t an every time deal it had to be something big that we helped with, with out being asked or whining about it. I don’t think we were ever bribed to behave we just knew better cause mom wouldn’t stand for us to misbehave out in public, or at a Dr.’s office.


  2. cabg
    May 05, 2013 @ 23:48:05

    I completely support bribery for formal photography sessions, doctor visits that include shots and initially starting potty training. And allowances should be earned, no matter what. And not all “work” done by children should be paid, some jobs just have to be done so we can all live reasonably (like getting the mail, taking out the trash, feeding the pets and cleaning the bathroom). But really, would I go to work everyday for a full day if I wasn’t paid? I think the children need to also see positive examples of compensation for good work, volunteering for their community and putting forward good efforts towards learning lifelong good habits at home.


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