When your little angel turns into a little devil by screaming, crying, and throwing tantrums, all you wish for is some peace. At times like this, maybe, your first thought is to bribe your baby. “Stop screaming, and I will give you another scoop of your favourite cookie dough ice cream!”. There, you’ve done it again. You’ve bribed your baby into good behaviour by offering a generous scoop of your child’s favourite ice cream.
A lot of parents do this. You may think it is a harmless thing to do, but it is not. When you bribe your child, you let him or her have it her way, and this is not the best parenting approach. Bribing is a dishonest means of persuasion, where there is a trade-off that works in favour of both parties. In this case, it is you and your child. If you continue this habit, tomorrow, it will be your child and another person, where bribing isn’t just a harmless approach anymore.
Why Do You need to Stop Bribing Your Child?
Now that we’ve established that bribing is wrong let’s get into the reasons as to why you need to stop bribing your child.
Firstly, when you bribe your child, you do so because you expect him or her to behave in the right manner. Behaving the right way does not require incentives – it is just the way you are supposed to be. When you tell your child that he will get chocolate if he is a good boy, then he will begin to think that he is entitled to receiving chocolate just because he was good. This is simply not the case. Being good is a responsibility, it is the right behaviour.
Secondly, childhood is the foundation stone for the rest of the child’s life. If you bribe him as a child, he will be corrupt when he is an adult. You do not want your child expecting bribes when he grows up, or worse still, bribing his way through life. Your child has to know that he will not always get rewards for what he does.
Thirdly, when you reward a child for good behaviour, he will end up doing less of it. Let’s take this example – you tell your child that if he eats the vegetables on his plate, you will read his favourite book before his bedtime. Research suggests that when you attach a ‘reward’ or bribe to a specific behaviour, your child labels this behaviour as unpleasant. In the long run, in the absence of a bribe, your child simply won’t practice this behaviour.
Ways to Stop Bribing Kids
Getting into a bribing trade-off is extremely easy, but reversing this habit is anything but easy. We will now dive in deeper into the many ways that you can stop bribing your kids –
1. A No is a No
Sometimes, you need to be firm without being mean or unkind. You need to tell your child that he is in the wrong and that some kinds of behaviour are unacceptable.
2. Let Your Child Figure it Out
Let’s say your child wants to wear a sleeveless top to her friend’s birthday party. You don’t want her to wear that, because it’s a cold winter night. Don’t bribe her. Instead, tell her to wear the dress, and then go out on the porch for two minutes. Let her see for herself that it is cold outside. This way, you’ll get your child to listen to you, and your child will realise that it was her decision and she wasn’t being forced.
3. Stop and Assess
Sometimes, there might be an underlying reason as to why your child is throwing a tantrum. If your child is screaming and crying all the way to school, on every single day, maybe it isn’t just another fit of a tantrum. You might want to look deeper. For instance, your child may be getting bullied.
4. Ask Your Child
Present the situation to your child, but with different characters. For example, take her favourite teddy bear. Ask your child if she would like it if her teddy bear threw a tantrum or didn’t follow orders. Will she like it? This way, you’ll be telling your child how you feel, by making her exercise empathy.
5. Sometimes, You have to Ignore
This might be a hard approach, but if your child is throwing a tantrum for no reason, then ignoring the child will let your child know that his tantrums are futile, and nothing is going to change with bad behaviour.
Children look up to their parents. Everything you say or do, in their world, is law. You need to teach the right ideas, patterns, and ways of thinking if you want your little one to grow up into a smart individual. Parenting is not easy, and no one gets it right all the time. Taking small steps to tie up loose ends can sometimes make all the difference.
Also Read: Rewarding Kids With Money for Good Grades