Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Bribe, Therefore I Am

If the Super Nanny ever paid a visit to the Feldman homestead, I think she'd be giving me that old tsk tsk stare when it comes to my parenting style. You see, when my kids work my last nerve or whine to get their way or repeat themselves at least a dozen times asking for the same toy over and over and over again, I pretty much flip off the switch in my brain and enter into bribery mode.
I have found that a good old fashioned cash bribe can ward off everything from nagging, to fighting with siblings to repetitive questioning by a pre-schooler. In fact, just this past weekend, I dangled a five spot in front of my son to prevent him from spilling the beans on a surprise party for a good friend of mine. And guess what? The bribery worked! He kept his trap shut and the surprise went off without a hitch.
Briberies can take on many forms. I've been known to bribe my kids with ice cream, gummy worms, and if I'm really under duress, the dreaded Webkinz. If it means a little reward for good behavior will translate into a relaxing home environment, I say, what's the big deal? People get bonuses at work. Why shouldn't our kids get bonuses when they do the right thing?
Now while it seems my kids are destined for a lifetime of bratty behavior with my bribery tactics, I say my ingenious reward system is achieving quite the contrary. My kids know full well that bad behavior will not be rewarded but if they both participate in a "see who is quiet the longest" contest, the payoff might just be a trip to the supermarket where they can each select their favorite box of cereal that comes complete with a junky toy they'll both treasure for at least the next hour or two.
If they've really abided by the rules of the day, they may even earn themselves a trip to the local amusement park or if they're really lucky, they'll get a shopping jaunt at Toys R Us. So if Jo Frost came and observed my parenting skills, would I fail miserably with these ruthless bribery tactics? Probably, but all I can say is if the house is quiet, no one is fighting and they've put away all their toys, what's a little tchotchke or piece of candy to make their day...and mine.


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