Bullies & Cyber Bullying
Behavior Problems
Classroom-Student Behavior
Extracurricular Activities
Internet & Technology
Kids Health & Safety
Parenting Styles & Skills
Positive Discipline
Potty Training
Sibling Rivalry
Sleepovers & Bedtime

Rewards for Behavior: Is it Bribing Your Child?

Many parents bristle at the thought of "bribing" their children. Really, bribing is all in how you look at it. Bribes are mere "incentives," but they are incentives that keep the peace, get things done, and allow your preschooler or kindergartner to believe that he is master of his own ship. Bribes, managed with care, can be an important parenting tool. Parents who keep a few tricks up their sleeves, and dole them out at just the right times and in just the right amounts, can successfully implement bribing as an art.

Rewarding Children for Behavior

First, remember that kids live in the here and now. Even preschoolers and kindergartners have shorter memories than older kids. That means that promising them something later for good behavior now isn't likely to have a lasting effect. But, bear in mind that bribes don't have to be tangible rewards. Sometimes bribes are simply distractions wrapped up in colorful packaging (called imaginative parenting). Does your child have a favorite game he likes to play; a song, story, or rhyme that gets his attention immediately? Use whatever is in your parenting arsenal as a bribe, not just rewards like candy and toys. Bribes can also serve an immediate purpose. Sometimes kids need to behave NOW, no ifs ands or buts about it. Used in rare instances, a bribe to get your child to behave isn't going to land you in the poor-parenting annals.

Behavior Charts Really Work to Reward Children

So, let's think of bribes as "rewards." Parenting experts believe strongly in rewards. After all, don't adults receive rewards for a job well done – raises, promotions, hugs and kisses? Issuing rewards to kids can help them understand that they control their own behavior and that good behavior is rewarded, bad behavior isn't. A behavior chart is a good example of a positive reward system. Charting your child's behavior and rewarding him with a treat for a job well done not only encourages positive behaviors, it can teach your child that he has to wait for those rewards. As he gets older, extend the number of good behaviors required for a treat or the length of time between rewards.

Chore Charts Responsibility and Reward Children

Chore charts list specific responsibilities the child has around the house such as making his bed, cleaning his room or even feeding the family pet. One way to reward kids is to assign points for each task or group of tasks outlined on the chore chart. Then kids can exchange those points for rewards you select. As long as you remember that rewards don't always have to be monetary, you can rest easier about "bribing." And, remember, implementing a reward system is no more damaging to kids than the incentives that adults receive in daily life. Rewards promote good habits that last a lifetime.