When I was still in the planning-to-parent stages (rather than the holy-shit-I’m-actually-parenting stage), I was convinced I would never bribe my children. That would be totally below me.
I’ll wait for you to finish laughing before I continue.
I know. I KNOW.
Then, I started actually parenting and realized bribery was a necessary parenting evil like wine and physical restraint. (kidding, kidding)
I felt guilty for a long time wondering how I had fallen into this common trap – feeling as though I was doomed to a future of entitled children. But you know what? Sometimes things just have to get done and bribery works. What’s a mom to do??
Well, that’s where a little re-frame I like to call ‘bribery for the 21st century’ comes in! A little less bribery and a little more motivation. I’ll show you what I mean…
Scenario: Mom needs to make a business call on the way to soccer practice with a car full of kids (on her Bluetooth, of course).
Old school bribery: “If you are quiet so I can make a call, I will buy you ice cream after the game.”
New school bribery: “I’m willing to buy ice cream for any children who are considerate while I make a call.”
They don’t even know what hit ’em!
Scenario: Gotta take the kids to the dentist. Dun Dun Dunnnn.
Old school bribery: “If you are good at the dentist, I’ll bring you to the park.”
New school bribery: “Your behavior at the dentist will show me if you’re up for a trip to the playground.”
You see what just happened? Jedi mind tricks for moms.
Scenario: The car is a big old mess. (
I have no idea what that’s like. Story of my life.)
Old school bribery: “I’ll give you $3 if you help clean the car.”
New school bribery: “I’m going to clean the car. Helpers get to keep any money they find!”
Bam. Car is clean before you know it and you didn’t bribe…merely, provided a little incentive.
Scenario: Parents are dying to sleep in, you know, past dawn.
Old school bribery: “If you stay in your room and play quietly in the morning, I’ll bring you to Chuck-E-Cheese.”
New school bribery: “When I sleep in bed with no distractions until 7:30am, I have lots of energy to take kids to Chuck-E-Cheese!”
Are you with me on this??
Suddenly all is right with the world. No bribes from me, and yet, my kids are motivated to comply. That is some magical shit right there.