It isn't a joke. You can bribe your kids and feel just fine about it. Rewards are a natural part of life. If you work overtime, you earn extra income. If you do a better job, you may get a raise. If you lose five pounds, you will treat yourself to a new pair of jeans. Many websites offer a referral reward for driving traffic to their site. If you spend a certain amount, you may get free shipping. And at the end of the day, you may just find a reason to reward yourself with a cold beer or a nice glass of wine.
Many parents tend to look at bribes in a negative way, because it feels as though you are rewarding your children for simply not doing something bad. But think about it this way, if you don't get into a car accident, you may get a discount on your insurance premium. Why withhold rewards from your children that you would give yourself? So when should you bribe your children?
When You Are Taking Them to Weddings or Funerals
Although taking your kids to either weddings or funerals would generally signify that you know the people well, it doesn't mean that close friends and family will appreciate an outburst from your children. Whether the event is happy or sad, these are times when children should be seen and not heard. Until your children are old enough to know the significance of the event at hand, it is fair to bribe them with something that will get them to behave. It could be as simple as an ice cream cone or $5. Or it could be bigger like a new bicycle. It all depends on your means and how important you consider the event. Think of it this way, rewarding your child for being good is simply easier than taking away their television privileges for a week if they are bad.
When Meeting Important People
If your children have a great-grandmother that you have travelled across the world (or continent) to visit and it isn't likely to happen again, it is important for them to be on their best behavior. Would you really like to make that experience negative for them by threatening them with taking something away if they are bad? This is one of those times that you should bribe your children. They are going to have good memories of their great-grandmother if it also comes with a new video game. The same goes for meeting dignitaries, new baby sitters, and potential step-parents. It is better for them to behave for something good than deal with your embarrassed wrath later.
When You Stand to Gain Something If They Are Good
Let's suppose you are taking your kids with you to see a house you want to rent. If the owner sees your children as destructive brats, what do you think the answer is going to be? This is one time you really should bribe your children. Only now, you can call it a kick-back if it makes you feel better. The truth is that is you get the house, you are probably going to treat yourself to half a dozen new items, so it won't kill you to get your kid a new CD if he helps you to make that happen, right? Sure you may also get him a new bed, but that isn't really what he is after, is he? You are in this as a team, just like your boss says to you as you are promoted to a profit-sharing position.
When It Will Break a Bad or Dangerous Habit
If your child can not stop hitting his younger brother and nothing you have tried so far is working, perhaps you should consider bribing your child for better behavior. Give your child a small amount every day for a week or two or have him go a longer time to get to a bigger prize. Buy the prize first and leave it on the shelf so that it is real for your child. A Playstation sitting on the shelf unopened is more likely to get him to go a month without hitting his brother than the obscure punishments you dole out when he does. It is also much easier on you to be generous to your children than it is to be hard on them.
When You (or They) Are Ill
If you, or another one of your children are ill, you simply don't have the energy and the time to watch the others' behavior. If you are sleeping off a migraine or in bed with something more serious, you need to know they are behaving in the other room. Whether it is pizza and ice cream or a sleep over at their friend's house, bribery is likely to work here. And the gravity of the situation actually demands it as we have nothing if not our health, right?
Whenever the Ends Justify the Means
If your child needs to improve his grades, what is his motivation? The idea of college and a job in a bank? Fat chance if they are growing up in a middle class environment. Whether it is the privilege of driving themselves to school or a new puppy (or if you live in the world of reality tv, you could even promise them a breast enhancement), a more immediate bribe is going to get you what you want, while giving them what they want as well. Just be sure to set the deliverables, whether it is one B grade in a sea of As.
Regardless of when you should bribe your children, you also need to look at the how and the what. Their whole life can not be one reward after another, after all, sometimes that promotion doesn't come through. And the last thing you need is a child who believes that he is always going to win something. And the reward always needs to fit the task at hand. Finishing your vegetables justifies ice cream. Brushing your teeth every day for a month justifies a sleep over. If you really can't think of anything, pick up some Amazon gift cards, your kids can put it towards almost anything in the world except drugs, alcohol and plane tickets, which is exactly what you don't want them to have, right?