Baby Bribery: Good, Bad, or Necessary?

Before last week, I’d never bribed anyone. But then a friend asked me to substitute babysit for her at the last minute, and I happily agreed. “I love kids!” I told her. “I’m great with kids!” But one temper tantrum was all it took before I all but wrote a check to the little girl as a desperate attempt to appease her.

Kids are smarter than I remember. Or maybe I’m just softer?

Yes, one could say I’m out of touch with my parenting skills (likely because I’ve never had a kid of my own and thus, never had parenting skills). But I’ve read a lot of debates lately where even the most practiced of parents have a hard time deciding when and how to bribe their kids if at all. See? Even the old lady in the shoe probably slipped one of her kids a buck or two in exchange for good behavior. But the question is: should you?

Experts say a little bribe here or there is harmless. Your daughter used the big girl potty? Give her a sticker. Your kids made it through an entire car ride without fighting? Take them out for ice cream.

But what happens when your kid won’t do his or her chores just for a measly sticker anymore, and it’s too late to stop at that point, so you’re forced to up the ante? Then the child is in control of the situation rather than the adult, which is probably not the best for anyone — and is exactly what happened to me last week.

I’m curious though: How many parents of you are bribing your kids? And when does bribery cross the line? I am interested in hearing opinions from parents on both sides of the fence. Sound off in the comments!

Plus: Discover your parenting style with our free quiz.

 Image: Baby sitting on money via Shutterstock by Alan Bailey

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