Bribery and Incentives: Powerful concepts in parenting, am I right?

Before I blog about this, you should know that I’m just like you… I am doing the best that I can as a parent. I succeed, I fail, I cheer them on, I cry, I push for excellence, I hug them when they’re struggling, I ache for them when they are learning a tough lesson but they need to learn it. I am just a learner and grower like you. I do not have the one and only answer. I do, however, learn through experience and want to share something I’ve experienced and read about on bribery or incentives.

Personally, I’ve heard it’s not good to use bribes. I absolutely get that. As my maturity as a mom has progressed, I am better at saying no in those moments or at least to not offering bribes. Let’s face it, we give a considerate and compassionate nod to the other mom dealing with a breakdown in the grocery store. We’ve been there, we understand. No worries lady over in aisle 2, we are not judging. It’ll pass. I’m praying for you!

However, when you’re “this” close to completing an excruciating task and your child decides that right then and there is a good time to have a behavior? Hello bribery! When you can seriously see the gosh darn finish line, a quick bribe of a treat to just finish that last 4 minutes is the solution … or so we thought, think, will believe… (as we silently plead with our child to please, for the sake of sanity, stop and let us finish).


How about using incentives instead of bribes? Incentives are powerful. They serve as encouragers to certain behaviors in kids. They can motivate to alter behavior and to continue the better behavior.

Here’s how incentives are different from bribes, and how to use them effectively.

An incentive is the conversation ahead is time. It is the clear direction that this event will be taking place and this is what is expected. You and your child talk about – and agree on – the behavior and incentive ahead of time.

These incentives are based on your child’s interests. Is kickball in the backyard for thirty minutes something your child likes? Perhaps suggesting this for completing homework would work. What if your child dislikes grocery shopping but can visit the bookstore afterwards if they cooperate during the former?

Bribes teach children that bad behavior will get them a reward. Incentives help children work toward a goal and celebrate their successes. It isn’t wise to use incentives for everything. That’d be overkill and focusing on a few “need to improve” behaviors would be wiser.

As a side note: I once heard that it isn’t good to teach children they’ll be rewarded for doing things. (Tie your shoes, get a prize!) I agree. Some things just need to be done!! But, I also heard that it is smart to teach them the value of work. Earn stars for clearing the table, stars earn a movie night. Incentives in a different form!

So I go back to my first thought. What is your take on bribes or incentives? Again, as I’ve become a more seasoned parent, I’m much better at persevering through the behavior. But I’m also light years wiser about setting clear standards and boundaries ahead of time.

Incentives are also helpful when there is an adjustment to be made. When plans change or life happens or in this case, work happens, we find incentives help. When my husband travels for work, he often promises an incentive if our kids get sad he has to be away for the weekend. He’ll offer something like one-on-one time or build-a-fort time with daddy when he returns from work. These are nice because it gives the kids something to look forward to. It also helps me to remind them if they get sad. I also offer special mommy and me time to our kids so they can have fun even while daddy is working hard for us. These are healthy forms of incentives.

What are your thoughts on incentives or bribery? I just offered an incentive this past week. I received my copies of my new book! So exciting! My son wanted to take one to school to show his teacher. Because the book does not launch until June 1, (here on my website or or Search: WHERE THE HOLIDAYS GO FELICITY FOX) I cannot let copies out yet. But, I could let him take a copy to show his wonderful teacher. After all, she wrote a beautiful endorsement for said book and will be receiving an influencer copy from me on June 1. I wanted to allow my son to take a copy in for the day. However, I needed to show him it was a privilege and he’d need to take good care of it. I told him if he could do those things, he could have the book to keep. (He has asked for the copy. I swear he is my biggest “kid” fan!!!!!) You know what? At the end of the day, that incentive paid off. He arrived home with the book in perfect condition.

#Incentives #parenting #wheretheholidaysgo

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