July 21, 2011

Is Bribery Really That Bad????

As a parenting philosophy, we have worked hard to reward our children for their good behavior and accomplishments instead of bribing them to behave well or accomplish things. The words are sometimes confused with one another, but they are very different. Merriam-Webster defines them as:
1: money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust
2: something that serves to induce or influence

1: something that is given in return for good or evil done or received or that is offered or given for some service or attainment
2: a stimulus administered to an organism following a correct or desired response that increases the probability of occurrence of the response

Essentially, a bribe is something you give or promise to someone prior to an act in order to encourage the performance of that desired act. A reward is something that is given after such act is performed, without using it as a source of motivation. When is a "reward" a "bribe"? When someone is only doing something on order to obtain the reward, its actually bribed behavior.

So, why am I rambling about all this? Because I have turned to bribes in desperation. The tantrums are out of control and I have begun to bribe Brooke prior to when one is about to start (or at the beginning of one) in order to get her to stop. And, it has worked for the past two days :( I promise her a treat (yesterday a sucker, today some sugar free jello) if she goes down for her nap without a fight. Yesterday I got to rest while the kids slept, today I got in a run on the treadmill. Does that make me a bad mom? Perhaps. But, right now I'm hoping that its just enough to break her out of this new behavior and bring back my cooperative napper once again. If it works, then I don't feel that guilty about it.


Jess said...

I'm a big fan of simply doing whatever works. If it keeps the tantrums at bay, and allows you some time to yourself: I think everyone is a bit happier!

Anonymous said...

I don't think bribing is necessarily a bad thing but it worries me if the kid starts expecting it or saying something like "I'll be good if you give me______." I think that's bad.