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Bribing Kids – Does it Really Work?

Is bribing the best way of making our kids behave themselves? Well this is a question that most parents are confused about. To understand this very complex parenting issue we first need to know the difference between the not so positive word ‘bribe’ and the very positive word ‘reward”.

Isn’t reward the same as a bribe?

While both these words seem synonyms however they are fundamentally very different. Generally, we bribe our kids when we are under pressure and when we desperately need them to behave under a given situation. If your child is throwing tantrums in a departmental store and you ask him to stop crying and promise to buy a candy that is just a bribe. So bribing usually happens suddenly, when all you want is to change your child’s behavior on the spot.

What does bribing lead to?

When your kid is addicted to this form of quick solution he/she starts negotiating each time he/ she throw tantrums. So bribing just puts the child in the driver’s seat and they use this technique to their advantage.


What is a reward?

On the other hand, reward is a planned form of activity. When you ask your child to follow rules and behave himself/herself prior to going to the store/ or doing any activity, and promise him/her to buy a treat on the way out or at the end of an activity it is a reward.  So rewarding is a constructive activity to motivate your child.

What does it lead to?

While rewarding your child you are compensating your child for his good behavior. You encourage your child to behave in a specific way by pre-planning a reward at the end of an activity. Rewards are healthy for kids because kids learn that privileges and extra incentives must be earned.

How does the reward process works?

If your three year old kids hates cleaning toys and you want to correct his habit you start a star chart activity or a smiley face on a chart.  Each day your kid cleans up his/her toys you give your kid a star.  After a week of good work you reward your child with a small treat or a toy which he really enjoys. So your kid is motivated to do his job and is enthused about collecting his stars

Does this System Work?

Yes it does.

  • Always make your reward system simple.
  • Only focus on a couple of behaviors at a time.
  • If you try to change everything, it will get really complicated and you will not be able to track it.

A simple reward system should clearly outline how you aspire your child to behave and also mention what reward your child can earn if he finishes his/her task well. Reward is a form of bribery but on a positive conditioning.

Don’t reward systems just spoil kids?

Reward systems don’t spoil your kids. In fact, reward systems can be a great way to teach kids that the privileges need to be earned instead of automatically being granted.

As a parent always remember that whenever you plan a reward it should be for a reason. So do not give your kids lavish rewards every day. A simple star on a chart or a small token gift should be enough to motivate your little one.

One of the biggest mistakes parents often make is not to look at the long-term goals of using a reward system. Although, reward systems need some extra time in the beginning, they can really make a big difference in your child’s behavior. If you invest a little extra time now, you’ll definitely need to spend less time disciplining your kids in the future.


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