As a mother, bribery has sort of ingrained itself in me. It’s one of those things that seem to happen in the birth process as I mentioned in my earlier post (You better…or Else!). It is part of the ‘Mommy Program’ and includes: The Look and The Threat. Bribery also seems to start at around the same time the above mentioned come into play.
What I did not consider is how it would cross over into my school life as well. I have had my fair share of discipline problems, and decided at one point to ignore the bad- and reward the good in an attempt to promote better behaviour. And so the ‘Bribery and Consumption’ began.
Of course, like with any bribe, you have to consider whether your ‘offer’ will be enticing enough to convince the other party (children) to participate. Naturally I chose sweets, and handed them out at the end of the day to those children who did not disrupt the class and worked hard. It did seem to work, but there are always a few that simply don’t get the picture… and give you puppy dog eyes as you hand out the reward.
With my own kids the ‘offers’ are fairly similar… “If you eat all your food I’ll let you watch 10mins extra cartoons before bed” or “We’re going to visit so-and-so, if you behave and don’t perform when we have to leave I’ll give you a sweet,” and “I’m going to the supermarket quickly, if you promise not to nag me for toys, I’ll let you choose one thing for yourself to eat or drink when I’m done.’ This was also a theme while potty training using the ‘Star Chart system’; “As long as you don’t make in your pants you will get a star, and when you have 10stars you can choose something from the toy shop.” And so you kind of get the picture.
Now, the most important aspect of bribery is this: THE OFFER MUST BE IN PROPORTION TO THE DESIRED BEHAVIOUR/ACT!
As mothers this is fairly simple, we instinctively know ‘how much’ or ‘what’ to offer the child and naturally the age of the child must be taken into consideration. Once again the ‘Mommy Program’ taking full effect.
What I have realised is that the ‘Daddy Program’ seems to lack this rather important aspect. I’m not entirely sure how the ‘Daddy Program’ functions, or if it exists at all. Maybe it is a mythical concept created by women/mothers in order to explain the sometimes strange and irrational behaviour of fathers. If it does really exist, I think it may need some fine tuning from one of our own to iron out the kinks.
Nevertheless my husband is a very hands-on father, and is very capable with the children in terms of feeding, bathing, toilet duty, entertaining and putting to bed. Last week I made an appointment for the boys to get haircuts. This is something I usually do and could not make it on the day. So I asked my husband to take them in to the regular hairdresser who knew our ‘hair cut routine’. I mentioned to him that the little one disliked getting haircuts and that he would need to bribe him in order for him to sit still long enough for the haircut to take place. And to prevent screaming session we usually have. I neglected to mention the type of bribe, or that it needed to be in proportion to getting his haircut. I normally go with “If you sit still and let the nice lady cut your hair without crying I’ll give you a lollipop/ice lolly/sweet/juice.” The offer usually depends on the weather. In any case I made it home just as they were going to leave and jumped in to go along. I was pleasantly surprised at my 3yr olds behaviour. He was well behaved and pleasant, and no crying…
As we left the salon I heard my husband casually say that we could now go to wimpy for waffles, ice cream and milkshake! I looked at him with a very strange look. I laughed and asked why…..to which he replied “Oh I told him if he behaves we could go to for waffles, ice cream and milkshake.” (WHAT??)…”Well you said I need to bribe him!” I agreed and said that I did say that but I didn’t mean such a big bribe! He didn’t quite understand ‘the big bribe concept’. He gave me the same look I had given him a few minutes earlier.
You see Wimpy waffles and Spur outings are my highest level of bribe! The ones I keep for ‘special occasions or emergency situations! He had just totally destroyed my bribery pyramid! And all the while I’m sure he thought that my ‘Mommy program’ needed some fine tuning as well! It’s going to take me ages to undo the damage… if possible at all. As you know kids forget almost everything within a few hours…unless of course it involves ice cream! And until then… the standard has been set- Wimpy Waffles for peaceful salon trips?!