Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I bribe my kids. 

There are standards to my bribery, though.  I don't bribe them if they throw fits that embarrass me. I don't bribe them to lie.  I don't bribe them to get the tv or iPad back.  No, I am very specific in my bribing: I will bribe my sons with small rewards if it is for something that will make them better people. 

G has fought me on potty training.  I will take some of the blame for that.  I am ashamed to admit that I pushed him to do #2 on the toilet too early.  This resulted in him refusing to go at all, either in diapers or on the toilet.  The closer he got to having to go, the more he fought me.  After using stickers and a Skittle for each pee-pee for months, I moved on to a slightly higher bribe.  I bought six Jake and the Neverland Pirates figurines and set them up on the microwave.  There they sat, smiling at G, waiting for him to poop on the potty for a month or two.  Each poop would earn one pirate.  He earned two or three until yesterday when he earned the entire set...and kept using the potty as he should today.

At Christmas, he berated the constipated dachsund from his Doggie Doo game, "You'll never get a pirate!"

What changed in G's mind?  Well, for one, he was finally ready to train.  I found with both he and B that plays a big part.  The other (possibly more) deciding change, was the newest bribe: Thomas the Tank underwear.  We talked about it for a while, then visited them at the last Wal-Mart run for Pull-Ups.  G tried to sneak the drawers in the cart, and threw a fit when I took them out.  I explained to him, though, that I didn't have enough money for Pull-Ups and underwear.  I told him we'd come back when he stopped dirtying Pull-Ups.  I let him hang them back up on the rack and wave goodbye.  Two weeks later, he's earned all pirates and is wearing big boy underwear.  We buy Thomas this weekend.  Heaven help me if they are sold out. 

B is a good reader.  However, he doesn't choose to read.  This baffles me, as his two older boy cousins love reading, and often do so.  They beg to go to the library, and polish books off in no time.  B adores them and wants to be like them...except in reading.  He will read for every reading challenge at school, though.  The most recent challenge helped him tear through several chapter books.  It was well written: read 30 of 51 days and color the clipart for the day red if you read 10 minutes, yellow if you read 20, and green if you read over 20.  B is just compulsive enough to have to see green for every day, so he read 21-30 minutes each day until the last four days of the challenge. 

Then B borrowed a comic Ninjago book from the library.  He was hooked!  I helped him request a bunch of Ninago books on the library's website.  He was so excited to pick them up...until he saw three of them were chapter books.  So now I'm bribing him.  For each Ninjago chapter book he reads, I'll buy him a Ninjago minifigure.  

So is bribing right or wrong?  I'm sure that could be thoroughly debated.  I see the greater good, though.  For a very small reward, G will overcome a fear of pooping.  B will read more, which is a skill that correlates to performance in school.  The goody is a carrot to get them to strive towards a goal, but bribery alone won't accomplish a longterm goal. I've decided to read each Ninjago book so that we can talk about them.  Maybe we'll read other books and discuss them.   Spending time together will be a positive memory for both of us. My hope is that one day they work without the small rewards because they'll be such good people.

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