Bribing and Rewarding Children Is There Really A Difference

bribe or reward

Is it?

Many parents struggle with the concept of rewarding children, but not bribing them. In both cases, the child gets a treat of some kind for their good behaviour. So what’s the difference? Although it may seem like there is little difference between the two acts, there is a clear contrast between the two actions.

Many moms and dads have a problem with the idea of rewarding children, although not bribing them. In the two cases, the youngster receives a treat of some sort or other for his or her good behaviour. And so what’s the real difference? Even though it might appear to be that there is very little difference between the two acts, there’s a clear contrast between the two actions.

What lesson does the child learn when this situation becomes a pattern? Rather quickly, the child learns that if they misbehave, the parent will negotiate with them in exchange for their co-operation. This means the child is more likely to misbehave, as they know this will start a negotiation whereby they can get a reward.

Now, compare this to rewarding a child for good behaviour. Rather than the child misbehaving and subsequently negotiating with the parent, the child displays good behaviour and receives a reward. There is a clear distinction. There has been no misbehaving, no tantrums and no defiance. The child has simply done what was asked of them, and has been rewarded with a surprise.

Rewarding children for good behaviour, particularly kind acts, or even when they have tried their best at a task is extremely beneficial to a child’s development. They learn that good behaviour and kind acts will be rewarded. In a situation of bribery, they learn to misbehave in order to negotiate a treat. There is a huge difference between the two, and avoiding situations of bribery with your children is vital.

So what about a pre-planned treat or reward. Let’s take an example – you plan to give your child a bath later that night. Knowing that your child doesn’t enjoy bath time, you offer a reward early in the day. If, when bath time comes, the child doesn’t misbehave, they can get an extra story before bedtime. When it is time for the bath, if the child behaves and goes quietly, they are rewarded for their good behaviour with the extra story. There has been no negotiation, and the child has never had control of the situation. If, however, the child starts to misbehave, they do not get their extra story before bed, and they certainly don’t get offered more rewards in an attempt to regain control.

In this instance, the offer has been made well in advance, and the terms are simple. Behave and be rewarded; misbehave and you will not be rewarded. This is the crucial difference. If you are in the habit of bribing your children, try and move to a reward system. It may take a few temper tantrums and meltdowns before you see the benefits, but don’t give up. It really is worth it.