The Dos and Don’ts of Using Bribery with Your Child
Parents, we’ve all been there. Desperate for our child to behave, we resort to the age-old parenting trick — a bribe.
If you eat two more pieces of broccoli, you can have candy for dessert.
If you’re nice to your little brother on this car ride, I’ll buy you a new toy at Target.
If you get your homework done on time, we can go get ice cream.
It’s natural to default to an award system like this when you are wanting your child to correct, change, or improve behavior. In general, there are two ways to change a child’s behavior: reward or consequence. Bribery is tapping into the reward side of behavioral change, which has been scientifically proven to be effective.
“They found that giving the students a small incentive for eating healthy — in this case, a 25 cent token the kids could spend at the school store, carnival or book fair — doubled the fraction of kids eating at least one serving of fruits or vegetables… The researchers also found that the effects lingered after the experiment ended, though they did subside somewhat. Two months after the end of the experiment, kids who had been rewarded for their health behavior for a period of five weeks were still eating 44 percent more fruit and vegetables than they had before the experiment begun.”
Bribing can certainly work, but how and when you bribe your child is crucial in order for it to be effective as the study cited above.