Desperation sometimes forces us to bribe our kids. I remember being shocked when we went to take family pictures with some friends and they brought along a bag of candy. Every time the kids would smile for a picture they would be rewarded with this candy. I am not sure this is really what Pavlov wanted us to learn.
Then a few weeks ago my daughter was throwing a fit. We were with some people we did not know very well and I was growing more impatient and embarrassed. I broke down, and pushed aside my better side that was yelling, “you swore you would never do this” and bribed E with a treat if she would just stop. And she did. It worked marvelously. The light switch went off. I should use this all the time. Why have I never done this before?
Hello, it is because kids should choose to make good decisions because it is right, not because they will get a sugar rush out of it.
But I have discovered a lesser evil for these desperate situations. Instead of candy, could we bribe them with a game? Could we bribe them with something that is good for their mind, body and our relationship? That is, if we must bribe at all.
The reality of this idea is that it takes much more effort and time. But like all hard things, the rewards are bigger. And when I say a game, I do not mean a new toy. I mean time. A period of time that you will sit with your child and play anything they wish: hide and seek, monopoly, baseball, dance party freeze… whatever floats their boat. And when I say monopoly I do not mean building the most hotels and making the most money, I mean talking and laughing and listening to your kids while you engage in an activity together.
We want our time spent together to be a happy and desired thing. So use it as a reward.
My challenge to you during this candy month is to not overdo it. Try it, try to bribe less with food and more with time. Try to involve more games and positive interaction over all the candy that is involved in October. That is all I am going to say- you take it from there.
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