It’s time to go home from a playdate. Your little one refuses to leave and starts screaming until you say, “I’ll give you a candy if you go to the car right now,” or, “If you stop fussing, we can stop for some ice-cream.”
Why Do Parents Offer Bribes?
Sometimes parents feel desperate for a little peace and quiet, so they tend to use these techniques to redirect their children’s behaviour. Unfortunately, the more you try to stop your child’s screaming, crying, or stubbornness using “BRIBES,” such as sweets, toys, money, or entertainment, the more you will encourage your child to maintain control and to display unwanted behaviours.
Bribery doesn’t work. All it does it that it takes power out of your hands. The thought process of your child shifts to, “You better give me what I want, or I won’t cooperate!”
Do Rewards Work?
Now that you realize that bribing your child isn’t the best solution for preventing bad behaviour, you may wonder if “rewards” to encourage good behaviour are the way to go. Like maybe offer your child money for tidying up the room? The moment your child says, “What do I get if I do what you ask?” you know that you’ve taken rewards way too far. The indirect message you relay to children when offering a reward for good behaviour is that you are asking them to do something unpleasant, for which they will receive a reward.
Rewarding Good Behaviour Examined
Rewarding good behaviour shifts the focus to the reward itself, instead of the benefits of the positive action, which in itself should be the reward, and should be the motivating factor for repeating that behaviour. For example, brushing your teeth keeps them healthy and helps avoid lots of dental issues down the road. Therefore, the rewards of brushing the teeth (a healthy smile) are logical and stem from the behaviour itself. Tidying up your room enables you to locate your belongings with ease and teaches you how to be organized. Eating fruits and vegetables builds your immune system, so you don’t get sick easily! The list goes on and on.
Children should feel good and proud of doing the right thing. A University of Florida study published in The Journal of Research in Science Teaching revealed that grade-schoolers who were rewarded for answering simple questions became less confident of their abilities when compared with kids who didn’t receive any rewards. Additionally, a University of Toronto research showed that four and seven-year-olds who were overpraised for being generous wound up sharing less with their peers.
Incentives for Good Behaviour
So, does that mean you should not be using any incentives with your kids? Here is how you can differentiate between bribes and incentives. Bribes are immediate quick fixes. Incentives require time and effort and produce long term lasting change. For example, when your kids brush their teeth daily for a whole week without any nagging, offer extra storytelling time.
Bribes are planned ahead of time, and encourage your child to display good behaviour just to earn them. Incentives, on the other hand, can be occasional surprises given to celebrate your child displaying good behaviour without the knowledge of the incentive awaiting.
Bribe or Incentive?
If you are not sure whether or not you are bribing your child, ask yourself how you are feeling when interacting with your child. Are you desperate? Are you forcing your child to do something he/she would not normally do? If your answer is yes, then the odds are what you are offering is a BRIBE!
Talk to the Expert
Contact Irini Girgis, Parental and Child Coach and founder of Kids Summit, to learn more about motivating your child to display positive behaviour without bribes. With her proven parenting methods and techniques, she will guide you in building healthy, positive interactions with your child. Call and schedule your appointment today!