It’s a well-accepted tenet of parenting that bribes are a bad idea, used only by desperate parents. But virtually all parents use them from time to time.
As far as parenting is concerned, although it may seem like rewards and bribes are identical twins there are ways to tell the difference.
Regardless of the size of the incentive (from an ice cream cone to a gadget) if it’s offered to encourage behavior that you’d like to see as part of your child’s character, like studying hard, or being a good pet owner, they can referred as rewards.
If the same offer is made for not doing certain things, like not throwing a tantrum or not being rude to anyone then it is a bribe.
Giving rewards is not a thing to negotiate. Giving rewards to the child is the decision of the parent.
Small things like asking the child to keep his room clean, talking to elders nicely do calls for giving a reward to the child. But if we change the language of the same thing and the child says that he will clean the room in return of something then this will be termed s bribe.
This is like a child is extorting money in return for doing a work which he should do in the first place.
Once the parents start down the path of bribing their child for doing any work then it will be hard to break the cycle in future. Children are very quick. They will immediately understand “this for that” arrangement.
They will ask for things in return even for doing the smaller things. Parents will forever be finding themselves at the bargaining table with their kids.
There’s quite a difference between bribing child and rewarding child, when it comes to appreciating them for something they have done or something you want them to do. Children are beautiful, but their behavior needs careful nurturing.
Giving them random treats to ‘avoid’ a certain type of behaviour is only going to leave in them a false sense of entitlement. The next time the child wants something, he will remember how he got it the last time — throw a fit till the time the parents relent.
The result is helpless parents and an innocent child who ends up being reinforced into a negative line of behaviour.
As parents, we need to fill them with motivation for an act done right. A reward is a way to reinforce positive behaviour and a bribe is a kind of blackmail. While bribing works like a charm in the short run, rewarding reaps dividend in the form of well-rounded children in the future.
Bribing towards a targeted behavior doesn’t lead to the behavior getting reinforced in the long term. As soon as the bribe or the tangible gift is removed from the scene, there is no more an incentive for the child.
Instead, rewarding with appreciation or a related result works better because then there is a cause (appropriate behaviour) leading to an effect (reward).
Parenting is no easy walk for a reason. But with careful planning, we can surely enjoy our toddler’s beautiful years a whole lot better, as they grow into smart, confident and positive young adults.
This post is written by Abhi (Loaursuno). We both are together participating in #blogchatterA2Z campaign