fusses, the parent gets all cutsie and distracts the child into doing what they want? Are the parents thinking this is a win, win; the child does what they want and is happy doing it? Does the parent fear the child’s disapproval? Is this easier than training the child to obey right away? I even wonder if the parent thinks they have the child’s heart if they can get them to do what they want without fussing, even if the child is tricked into it.
Let me be straight forward, if you have to bribe a child to obey,
you are not the authority, THEY are. Where is the bribing? you ask.
Let’s say it is time for little Joey to go bed. Mom tells him,
“Joey go put your jammers on.” Joey suddenly jumps up screaming, “no, no, no” as he runs circles around the living room. Mom doesn’t want to upset Joey so much so she gets down on the floor and says, “Joey, follow me, I am a silky black panther headed to my den.” Joey pulls himself together and crawls up the steps behind mom. As they get to Joey’s room mom changes the character from a panther to a hunter. “Now we are the hunters, Joey, and we need to change into our hunting camouflage.” As they play, the jammers are put on.
Joey was bribed to obey by offering him fun in exchange for his
A bribe is also a reward.
When sweet Susie throws a fit at church and mom picks her up,
pulls her close, whispers bribes of her favorite cereal when they get home. Susie may pull it together, but at great cost to mom and dad. She has learned that poor behavior in public is rewarded with things she likes.
Another scene I have seen played over and over is a child fusses
and the parent responds by tickling or wrestling with the child until the child is giggling uncontrollably. Again the child is being given the message, if you fuss, we’ll give you fun in exchange for your obedience. Along with bribing the child is rewarded for fussing, which encourages more of the same behavior.
As strongly as I want to promote no bribing, distracting or rewarding poor behavior, I am not saying we cannot have fun with our children.
I know a family that heads off to bed each night pretending to be
a different animal. It is a family ritual that they all look forward to. The parents are not being animals to get the children to go to bed, they have chosen to add this fun to their daily routine.
We love to wrestle and have spontaneous snuggles throughout our
days. They are given to express love and affection, not to gain a child’s cooperation.
There may be a time when it would not be appropriate to train a
child. In these situations I would encourage leaving if at all possible. Leaving keeps the situation from becoming a reward to the child. Just last night we were at a outdoor event when an eight year old start fussing loudly at her parents. The mom threatened, “Ok, we will leave then.” To which the child screamed, “I don’t want to go.” So the mom bribed, “Then stop your fussing.” As far as I know they stayed. But, it would have been much more beneficial for them to leave at the first outburst.
It is hard to leave, I understand that. It is forward thinking though that will give us the help we need. If we set the precedence that obedience is expected even in public, we will be the winners.