Monday, January 14, 2008

7 Bribes for 7 Brothers... and Sisters... and Cousins

This will probably come as a shock, but our combined 7 children don't always want to eat their peas/finish their homework/not write on the walls. In fact, more often than not... okay, always, they'd rather eat buttered pasta at every meal of the day/watch TV/write on walls and books and themselves. So we do what any enlightened parent would do. We bribe them.

For Jonah, it means that he doesn't get his favorite food, "ketchupandfrenchfries," if he hits. For Erika, it's the promise of two hermit crabs complete with all accouterments (Cage? Cocktail sauce? I'm not sure) if she completes a giant math workbook. Hilary and Declan are susceptible to the standby Eat-Three-More-Bites-of-Chicken-And-You-Can-Have-Ice-Cream... You-Call-That-A-Bite? bribe, while Ronan, Aaron, and Gretchen will do almost anything if you let them "read" a board book at the dinner table.

Am I conflicted about this? Not yet. I know you're not supposed to offer dessert as a reward for eating dinner, but with a son who's just above the 3rd percentile for weight, I'm more concerned about calories than lifelong eating habits. But what about when they're older? Is it okay to give your kid a dollar if he brings home a good report card? How about $100? When does "incentive" become "bribery"? Or "blackmail"?

What about you? Do you bribe your kids? Where do you draw the line?

1 comment:

clara said...

I use bribery and I am proud! I think positive reinforcement is a good way to raise kids and I also bribe myself. If I have to do something I hate doing, I always reward myself with a glass of wine, a People magazine etc. You are not alone in bribing!