I Bribe My Kids All the Time Because It Works Like a F*cking Charm
File this under things I said I'd never do before I became a parent: I bribe my kids to help out around the house or even just to brush their teeth. And I'm not even remotely sorry about it, because when it comes to real-life parenting, bribery works like a f*cking charm.
[When I bribe my kids], they comply like mini-soldiers, and I save time nagging and bargaining to get sh*t done.
The thing is, I have four kids. I need them on board with getting up and out in the morning or I'm screwed. So in order to combat the inevitable "I don't want to"s and "Do I have to?"s I just say things like, "Make your bed and I'll give you a quarter," or "Walk the dog and you can pack an extra treat in your lunch." And guess what? They comply like mini-soldiers, and I save time nagging and bargaining to get sh*t done.
But I don't always offer incentives to help out. It's just in case of emergency; you know like when the baby suffers a level-five diaper explosion when we're already late for school. That's when I'll bribe the older kids to clean up their own breakfast dishes and meet me by the car, because there are lollipops to be gained if I don't have to say it again. Bribery also comes in handy when my kindergartner refuses to get on the potty just because I want her to. But you better believe she'll do it for a Hershey's Kiss, no questions asked.
I realize bribing my kids isn't a perfect parenting strategy, but sometimes parenting is about survival, not idealism. Would I love for my kids to listen to me the very first time I ask them to clean their rooms or feed the dog? Would I love for world peace to be achieved tomorrow? Yes to both. Is either scenario realistic? Every parent knows the answer to that.
And to the parents who are trying not to bribe their kids or think it's an awful thing to do, I'd encourage you to just try it! You'll save yourself from a lot of heartache and angst. Still, I feel you about why bribery is wrong when it comes to parenting. I definitely don't want my children to grow up entitled, thinking they should never have to do something without the promise of a reward. That's why I never bribe them to do well in school — that's just expected. But if I ask one of my kids to dust the family room for a dollar, is that really so awful? We both win! It's all about picking your battles, and I think bribery is totally OK here and there.
In the end, I think everyone wants to be compensated in some way for doing well; even adults. I guess I bribe myself, too. If I just get through another hectic day with the kiddos, there's a beer with my name on it in the fridge!