By Maureen Monfore, www.ChildwiseChat.com
Whether you’re a Babywise parent or not, we all pretty much know that we’re not supposed to bribe our kids. It’s parenting 101. But when you stop to think about why this is true, it’s pretty powerful stuff.
In Growing Kids God’s Way the Ezzos very wisely tell us that we should not use bribes to motivate obedience. They say, “Children should be rewarded for their obedience but should not be obedient just to gain a reward,” (p. 124).
They encourage us to ask ourselves what happens when the bribe stops being enough. What happens when the child decides the he has no motivation to obey?What’s more, we learn from the Ezzos that children who are raised on bribes often see no reward in serving others. Their selfish tendencies are driven purely by instant gratification.
It all makes perfect sense. But there’s one little quote in the book that really caught my eye. It’s from a 16-year-old boy named Timothy. He says, “If my parents had offered me a bribe for doing a goodjob with something they asked me to do, that would have enticed me to complete it, but not necessarily complete it correctly,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 125).
As this quote shows, bribes completely devalue anything we want our kids to accomplish. This is not only perceived by parents, but it’s most definitely perceived by the child. For example, if a child is bribed to get an A in a class, he’s being taught that getting good grades is only worth the value of the bribe. Say a parent offers $50 for an A. Forever in the child’s mind will be this idea that an A is only worth $50.
As we all know, getting good grades is worth so much more than $50! It’s about being successful, filling our brains with wonderful knowledge, impressing teachers, and the amazing feeling that you get when you know you’ve done the best you can, particularly if you had to work hard! You can’t put a price tag on that.
And as Timothy says, bribes encourage the minimum amount of effort to earn the reward. Again, with the grades example, an A can be achieved with a 90% score. I don’t know about you, but I al
ways felt so much better about myself when I earned a 99% or 100% than I did when I earned 90%. But a child who’s bribed to get an A doesn’t get that feeling of satisfaction. He earns his 90% and calls it done.Whenever you’re tempted to offer your kids a bribe, stop and ask yourself what you’re taking away from them by offering a bribe. Not only are you contributing to a selfish spirit, but also you’re taking away the priceless reward of working hard and doing a good job.
Maureen Monfore is a mother of two young boys, a freelance writer, and the author of ChildwiseChat.com and the eBook, Live in Harmony with First-Time Obedience. A loyal follower of the teachings of Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo, she is passionate about teaching children to obey to pave the way for fun, love, learning, and essential moral development.