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10 Parenting Tips To Stop Bribing Your Child

Picture this scenario: A harried mom in a grocery store asks her two young boys to stop fighting. They continue…getting even more boisterous. After asking for the “umpteenth” time and having them ignore her, she starts to raise her voice, but stops herself, she knows she shouldn’t yell at them…additionally the kids won’t respond to yelling anyway. She reaches the end of her rope, is at her whit’s end, wants immediate results, so, “bribes the children.” Sound familiar?

Bribery gets immediate results. The behavior the parent is trying to curb stops… but to what future consequence.

In the long run “bribes” don’t work. Bribing children can have the opposite of the intended effect. Behavior can become more and more outrageous in the hopes of attaining better and better prizes. It goes to follow, if a small tussle in the grocery store is rewarded with a pack of gum, what will an out and out brawl get, a cell phone? Bribing creates a situation where the tail is wagging the dog. The child’s behavior begins to dictate the culture of the family. The family is happy when the child behaves well and in turmoil when the child misbehaves. The child gains power and the parents lose power.

It is more effective and healthier to tell the child that he or she will face a consequence if the unacceptable behavior continues and then follow-through with that consequence. “If you continue to do “X” behavior, we will not go to the park,” (or whatever fun thing the child is looking forward to in the near future). By giving a consequence that the child can actually experience, the child feels the consequence and in turn thinks twice before repeating the offense. Giving a consequence assures that the parent never attacks the essence of the child, which can be damaging to their psyche, just the behavioral offense.

Following through is a crucial step of this learning process. The child must know that the parent means what she says and always follows through.

On the other hand, when the child behaves, praise, praise, and praise! Let him know that it is marvelous and wonderful when he listens. For example a successful trip to the grocery store should be complimented. Consistency, follow-through and praise are essential in promoting and reinforcing good behavior and creating peace in the family.

Consistency, follow-through, and praise sound easy enough. Then why do parents so easily fall into the “bribery” trap?

One reason parents bribe is because raising kids and running a household are incredibly challenging and taxing. When half-way through folding a load of laundry the child reaches over and tosses the folded clothes across the room or when traveling up and down the aisles of the supermarket and the child starts grabbing food out of the cart and pitching it onto the floor, a parent can feel pushed to the brink. The mundane work has to be completed, it is understandable that parents bribe the child to quickly nix the bad behavior and finish the one of many task on their long daily list.

It is definitely tempting to bribe children to stop the disruptive behavior with a new toy or a snack. However, rewarding the negative behavior with a bribe ultimately leads the child back to that same unacceptable behavior, the next time with a vengeance.

It is really important to be your child’s advocate. Think about the tools your child needs to be equipped for teen years and adulthood. As hard as it is not to appease in the moment, consider the child’s future interests. The goal of a parent is to help mold a fantastic person and give the necessary tools a child needs to have a great life.

Here are ten tips for parents who want to find an alternative to “bribery”:

1. Immediately respond to the incident making sure that the child realizes that her behavior is unacceptable. Little kids need to be educated about right and wrong.

2. Use words the child will understand to explain that you are upset. Don’t assume she knows why you are unhappy. “Tammy, pulling the folded clothes out of the laundry basket is not okay. Mommy worked hard to fold those clothes. We have discussed this before. I am giving you a three minute time-out.”

3. Follow-through, act immediately, and do what you say you are going to do. Do not make idle threats.

4. Ask the child to apologize.

5. Reward the child with a huge hug and kiss and thank him for completing the time-out. Then let it go. It is not fair to your child to dwell on an incident after he has completed the time-out, or you have taken away a toy or privilege.

6. Do not feel guilty that you had to reprimand your child. It is your obligation to your child to teach her proper behavior. If you are calm and choose an appropriate consequence then you are being a great parent.

7. Be on the look out for good behavior. How refreshing it is for kids to have their positive behavior recognized…especially when they weren’t expecting it to be noticed.

8. Keep a tally of all of the good behavior over the course of the day and reward with an extra story at bedtime, an extra fun craft project, or a “tickle extravaganza.” But most importantly, let the child know how proud you are of him or her and how much you love him/her.

9. Talk your children up! Say, “I have the most wonderful kids! I love to be with them!” Kids do hear you when you talk about them, loud and clear. Make sure that the majority of what they hear makes them feel warm and nurtured, loved, respected and cherished.

10. Children want limits set. They feel out of control if you don’t make the boundaries clear, and that scares them. Children want you to be the parent. One of the most wonderful gifts that you can give to your kids is to teach them how to behave properly.

Guiding children through the tough stages of childhood creates parenting opportunities for teaching lessons in manners and good behavior. By promoting peace, quiet and good behavior in the home, parents create a fertile environment that encourages growth and development.

Submitted by:

Elena Neitlich

Elena Neitlich is the owner and CEO of Moms on Edge, LLC. http://www.momsonedge.com Her company designs, manufactures and sells children's behavioral products and parenting aids. Elena is the proud mother of Noah(5) and Seth(2) and is committed to raising great people. http://www.momsonedge.com




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