Has this ever happened to you? You’re riding in the car and your toddler starts screaming for reasons only God knows. She’s fine, everything’s fine, you know she’s just testing You. You can’t get her to stop so you bribe her with a lollipop.
Maybe your kids are older and they just don’t “feel like” going to school. Instead of parenting them, you bribe them telling them that you will give them something in exchange for their obedience. Does this sound familiar,”If you get straight A’s mama will buy you…”?
I think there is a fine line between teaching a child ethics and bribery. I see these scenarios all the time and they make me crazy for reasons most won’t understand. You see, at my core all I care about is the big picture. I’m a big picture thinker and in that picture where there is a parent just tired of fighting the kid so they give them whatever the kid wants, I see a world where those kids grow up to be out of control adults. I see these kids not finding self motivation to contribute their part in the world. They lack patience and are complete narcissists. I theorize that this is where those reputations came from about the millennial generation. The parents of this generation made a collective decision that they didn’t want to go with the status quo and adopted the belief that every child must find their own way in the world. This parenting style is referred to as “individualistic parenting.” Maybe this style of parenting came from the social issues from their perspective at the time. Back in the 60s and 70s they had plenty of things taking away the full attention of the parents. While parents were off trying to earn a living or change the famous gender and race issues, kids were left on their own, literally and emotionally. This is not much different from the way many parents raise their kids today. The products of those family scenarios are now raising their own kids passively (that is the definition of individualistic parenting, by the way). There are plenty of books out there and podcasts and the like but how do we know for sure which ones work? Or which ones are RIGHT?
I don’t claim to be a parenting expert in the least but I do see the big pictures no one else seems to.
When we bribe kids to get them to do what we want (or just what they’re expected to do in the first place) we relinquish all control into their immature and totally incapable hands. How do we not see this as an issue?? How can we not possibly realize, with all of the science out there about the human brain and how it develops, that this might not be a smart choice? This might be more harmful to society than helpful.
Discipline does not take away individualism from the child. It actually hones it and refines it. Teaching them how to live in the world verses offering a simple (and seemingly innocent) bribe forms and shapes the next generation, but most of the time not in the way that is the healthiest.
Oh I have been there, trust me. I get what it feels like to be in a very public place while my kid throws a Texas sized fit only to have judgement slinged at me from complete strangers… Or so it felt like. My son is a redhead and lives up to the cliché characteristics well. He is GOOD at it.
It’s in those moments that our kids learn social expectations, respect and dignity. Kids are turds. They’re supposed to be…THEYRE NOT DEVELOPED. They are supposed to test the world around them. But that doesn’t mean we let them control it. Those are learning opportunities for them to experience why it might not be a good idea to act in such ways. In these moments it is absolutely our jobs as parents to teach these kids. It’s also our job to decide which way we want our kids to grow. There’s a fork in the road each and every single time an opportunity arises to bribe the kid… This is where #parentingainteasy comes from. Its not supposed to be!
Teach a child about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Do you want your kid to grow up expecting the world to take care of them? Do you want them to always be thought of as inferior to society? If so, then by all means… Bribe away. Because bribing kids teaches them that they are not valuable enough to have our full attention of the matter. It teaches them that we are not the ones in control, that they are… And that’s NOT actually what they’re looking for in the moment. Kids need to know that you are the stable rock leading them.
If that is not the goal for your family (and by the way, everyone should have a “family goal”) and you would rather teach confidence and humility, characteristics that are kind of essential to adulthood, then it would be a great time to think on a big picture level the next time little Jimmy loses his mind in aisle 5. Don’t bribe him. Train him with the mind and maturity of your fully developed brain because it is your job to use it for such a time as this.
1. Decide that you love your kids “too much to let them act that way.” This is a common saying in our house when our kids are raging. We said these words many times a day to our toddlers way back when. So much, in fact, my daughter once repeated it back to me while witnessing a kid throwing a fit in Wal-Mart.
2. Surround yourself with people who you think raised good people. Humble yourself to receive some teaching from them.
3. Take some parenting classes and seek out those books and podcasts on this subject. I personally recommend Love and Logic. Family life changing, yo.
Believe it or not, you are your kids’ first and most important teacher. Don’t leave this important job to a lollipop.
What are some ways that you have overcome bribing your kids? I’d love to hear them!