Rewarding Kids vs Bribing Kids: What’s The Difference?
Parenting is a full-time job, and there’s no such thing as a consensus on the right or wrong way to do it. There are thousands of books and articles out there, but at the end of the day, you have to do what’s right for your child.
Intentional or not, almost every parent has rewarded a child – and almost every parent has bribed a child as well. It’s important to remember that there is a difference.
Here are a few guidelines to help you distinguish between the two:
Rewarding is usually planned ahead, and bribing is usually spur of the moment. Think of how the world works: Every day you show up to work, and a couple of times a month you are rewarded with a paycheck for getting the job done. That’s how you’ll want to structure your rewards for your child.
Rewards are given with good behavior, and bribes are usually given to stop bad behavior. Bribing is a form of negotiation, with the child often getting the upper hand in the situation.
Bribing puts the child in control. Rewarding lets the parent be in control. A child will instinctively remember when they acted poorly in a store and their parent bribed them with a toy or candy to stop their behavior. Bribing the child at that moment will only teach them that is how they will be given what they want.
Children want to be rewarded when they are acting appropriately. Rewards will make your child feel proud of what they’ve done. Bribes will give your child a powerful feeling.
Rewards are a great parenting tool when used properly. Bribing is a slippery slope that can form habits that are hard to break.
Every child is different, and as a parent, you’ll live and learn every single day. Something that might have worked for your child one week might not work the next week. Just try to be kind to yourself – you’re doing the best you can!