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Thursday, February 23, 2012

World of Bribery

Is it just me, or does anyone else BRIBE their kids? Here I sit and tell them all how important it is to tell the truth, and to work hard, blah-blah-blah... but as I sit here and type this, my 2 1/2 year old is eating a bowl of ice cream. It is not even 8 AM and she is eating ice cream. WHY? Because I bribed her. She is in the middle of potty training and she WILL NOT poop on the potty to save her life. SO, I told her she could have ice cream when she poops on the potty. Sure enough, after days of bribing her little toddler self, it worked.  I am sitting out in the kitchen, enjoying some GMA and a cup of coffee (the juice of the gods), and I hear this sweet little voice coming from the bathroom.  "MOMMY I POOPIED."  I got excited, and sure enough... she did.  Now, for those of you who have NOT had the pleasure of potty training, it takes a lot of time, lots of positive reinforcement, patience, and bribery. LOL 

In order to get her to go number one on the potty, we bribed her with M&Ms and stickers. Her sticker chart is full of characters, but she loves putting a sticker on the chart for going potty. I feel this is a positive form of bribery, but really when is bribery positive? I mean, it is a walking contradiction but it seems to be working. She just asked me for more ice cream as I am writing this... my answer, "You can have more when you poopy on the potty again." HAHA  Then my 8 year old son chimes in, why don't I get ice cream when I go number two. I said you got dollars for going potty at this age. Now, you have an allowance. You get to buy real things. He bought that.

And my 14 year old is having some medical issues right now.  She wanted to go to school yesterday, but the doctor said NO. I tell her, “You have to relax and wait for some blood work to come back.” My 14 yr old was like, I will just go. So I bribed HER in a way. I said, you either stay home and do homework here, or I can accompany you to high school and walk you from class to class. This tactic worked. She stayed home. NO ONE wants mom to go to school with them when they are in high school. Battle won.

But, here is the catch, when I see HER bribing her brother to do something; it is as if mean mommy rears her ugly head. I tell her how unethical it is to bribe someone.  She then retorts and says, don't politicians kind of bribe people (darn smart child). My response is, yes they do. But, if you just go clean your room for me, I will give you $20. Trying to gently back out of the conversation... by BRIBING her again.


But is it bribery? Or is it a reward? I think the system we use is more of a reward for doing the right thing, versus bribing our children to STOP doing the bad thing.  And if we are giving them a known reward for positive reinforcement is it wrong?  I want my kids to know that they can rejoice and have ice cream if they do something right! I want my kids to know that if they don't clean their rooms by a specific date they WON'T get the prize I have set forth for them.  A lot of times we can be very soft on our kids, and it is our job to teach them if they work hard, they will accomplish a lot. And if they chose not to do the work, they will not get the reward.

It is HARD to follow through with this, but in life, we don't always win. (Don’t EVEN get me started about this, everyone wins stuff they do now in school. I want my kids to win and lose, if that makes sense, and that may be tomorrow’s blog… LOL) As I digress… I want my kids to know how to lose gracefully and with dignity. I don't want them to be blindsided when they get older and realize that some people win, some people lose... I want them to know the point of the game… the point is to play the game and have fun.

So, maybe I need to start calling my system a “reward system” versus bribery.  I love rewarding my kids for all of the great things they do.  I spend a lot of time rewarding great, versus focusing a lot on the not so great. I know that my babies, like everyone else’s, crave attention and whether it is positive or negative they crave it. So, along with the kids’ rewards, I also make a big deal of the random acts of goodness they do. I think it is paying off, for I am truly blessed by some of the random goodness that comes from their hearts.

Maddy's potty chart covered in stickers! I love seeing this progress she is making!

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