As a parent, we’ve all found ourselves in that situation where nothing you do will make that child follow directions. Perhaps it’s the mound of dirty clothes sitting in their room that they won’t put in the hamper no matter how much you ask, or maybe it’s a screaming 4 year old in the middle of the supermarket, but chances are that, like most parents, you felt your patience slipping and a slight desperation to resolve the situation now. With nothing else working you hear yourself uttering those fateful words, bribing your child to do what you want in exchange for something that they want. And, of course, instantly whatever you were asking is carried out, but at what cost?
It may not seem like that big of a deal, but bribing your child into good behavior can create bigger problems for you down the road and can prevent your child from learning effective coping measures for the emotions and leave them ill prepared for adulthood. This is because bribery teaches your child that they don’t need to be held accountable for their actions or to respect authority. It also creates a false sense of entitlement and disrespect for others as bribing your child to behave shows them that their wants are more important than the needs of others, that the rules do not apply to them, and that they can do whatever they want in order to get what they want. As you can see, this can lead to rather unpleasant situations later in life as your child is forced to deal with the reality of the world that we live in.
Rather than bribing your child, there are better ways to encourage good behavior that will help your child to be better prepared for adulthood and help them to be a more balanced and functional person.
– Have established rules with straightforward consequences
– Praise your child when they are behaving and following the rules. This is not the same as bribing because praise may be nothing more than giving your child a warm hug and thanking them.
– When your child refuses to follow the rules, remind them of the consequences. If they continue to misbehave, make sure that you follow through on the consequences. This is the most important part and this is how your child will learn to be responsible and hold themselves accountable for their own actions later in life.