Friday, May 16, 2008

Is it such a bad thing?
Bribery is a part of our social life whether we like it or not. Want to get into that high end restaurant without a reservation? It's going to take some cash. How about getting through the door to the hottest nightspot in town? The bouncer won't let you through just on your good looks - it's going to take some green. From the blue collar worker to the politician, bribes are made everywhere & it all starts when they are two years old.

I've found that bribery is a major motivator for Logan. If we want him to be on his best behavior while doing our weekly grocery shopping, we entice him with the reward of a new matchbox car. We're thinking about starting his potty training next week with the hopes that candy bribes will get the job done. Tonight, Bill is working late & then staying out with his friends, so it was all up to me to get Logan to bed - which is usually the biggest power struggle of the day. Not tonight, thanks to the promise of a Sponge Bob band-aid if he cooperated nicely. Which he did. I pretty much have to bribe him to be good, but is this such a bad thing?

I don't want to have to do this for everything. Ideally, I want Logan to act civilized because that is what he's supposed to do. But what is the difference between bribing & rewarding for good behavior? Isn't putting a Sponge Bob band-aid on an imaginary owie a much better & stress-free solution than temper tantrums, screams & the slamming of doors? Or is this just the cowards way of avoiding conflict with a strong willed toddler?

Whatever it is, it's working for now. I think we can spring the $5 for a matchbox car, box of Sponge Bob band-aids & black licorice (yuck!) to make for an easy, scream-free week.


Jezer said...

Part of teaching children to behave appropriately is to motivate them to do so. I wish that all kids were natural "pleasers," but some of us were blessed with children who aren't satisfied to blindly follow the norm. So, for things that are non-negotiables in our house, we have to find the right motivators for learning.

You have found Logan's currency, and that is a huge step. At first, you may feel like you're simply bribing him to do what he should be doing anyway, but I think in time, you'll see that he'll begin to naturally follow the routine and you'll be able to step back some of the rewards. As he gets older, he'll start to recognize that doing the right thing FEELS good, and that'll become his built-in reward.

Yes, we all want our kids to be intrinsically motivated to do certain things, but if they're not, it's our job to provide the initial motivation for them.

Gosh, I sound a little (a little? pshaw) self-righteous. Sorry about that! It's just that we've recently been through this same issue with bath time, so I've had to think a lot about the bribery-as-valid-motivator issue lately.

Dawn B said...

Hey if a band-aid gets him to do what you need him to do then AMEN! LOL!!!!!
We had a cool laptop toy we bought James before we were supposed to go fly to use on the plane ride. Well, since we ended up not going we gave it to him on Mother's Day. He played with it while we ate out for dinner and I actually got to eat a full plate of food. LOL
Whatever works...

Joanna said...

I am all about bribes in this house. We bribe everytime we greet the doors of ANY store. Kelsie is usually horrible in stores having tantrums wanting to walk so we make the bribe of looking at the toys or getting something small, a piece of candy or something from the dollar section. It seems to work and even if we forget to bribe her, she doesn't just ask for something and sometimes we are rewarded with her good behavior just because. So, I think bribes are a good thing!