Bribing Your Kids Doesn’t Have To Be Bad (It Works For My Family)

bribingBribing to some people is seen as a dirty parenting tactic. Also known as promising your child something in return for stopping a tantrum, sharing a toy, following orders, cleaning a room, or in our case, pooping on the potty. Bribing in our house has taken on another level with potty training.

It started with a piece of candy. Then a few pieces of candy. Then a so-called “prize.” Every time my son would poop on the potty while we were potty training (which took a very long time to reach this point), he expected something for his behavior. I raided the Dollar Tree for small incentives for not pooping in his pants or on the floor, or wherever he felt like going that day. And you know what? It worked. And the best part is, after figuring out the routine of pooping on the potty, he no longer asks for something in return and it’s just the norm now.

If you think about the definition of a bribe, you are offering an incentive in exchange for bad behavior — think illegal or against the rules. A reward is an incentive in exchange for good behavior like using the potty. Even adults need incentives sometimes — they could be financial incentives at work or even a bottle of wine for helping a friend out.

It doesn’t always have to be in the middle of a crisis. Consider encouraging good behavior for things like:

  • Trying a new food or drink that might be a healthier option. They may end up liking it!
  • Being brave at the doctor if the visit requires a shot. Ice cream makes everything better.
  • Sharing with friends so there are less tantrums, and everyone gets a turn. Win-win!

Get creative with your rewards. They don’t have to cost money. Offer free things like:

  • More free time outside.
  • A playdate or sleepover with a friend.
  • A trip to the playground.
  • A bike ride around the neighborhood.
  • A movie night with popcorn and snacks.

Rewarding your child for their behavior (good or bad) may have a negative connotation, but it’s really in the way you look at it. There is a balance to be found in anything. And if it works for you then what’s the harm?

Boy mom. Household CEO. Corporate leader. Outdoor lover. Social seeker. Sun worshipper. Curious traveler. Champagne enthusiast. These words describe me, Kerry Schicker, and contributor for Jacksonville Mom. I first approached founders Vicky and Megan after a heartbreaking miscarriage a few years ago. I had a very unpleasant experience with my OB at the time and I needed to get it off my chest so I wrote an anonymous blog that resonated with some of our readers. I have since written dozens of blogs mostly about motherhood. I have a passion for writing. My 20-year career has grown through some form of writing including TV news reporting and producing, magazine publishing, public relations, advertising, marketing, blogging and my current day job doing HR and employee communications for a Fortune 300 FinTech company. I am thankful that Jacksonville has such a supportive community for moms like me, and I can't imagine raising my two boys anywhere else.


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