As a parent, you attempt to respond appropriately to your children’s behavior. In a NY Times article titled “Train a Parent, Spare a Child” by Bruce Feller, the topic of modifying a child’s behavior without resorting to bribes is addressed by several Parenting experts. You may ask “Was there any consensus to be found in their opinions?” In short, no. In fact, some even condoned the occasional bribe. Go figure.
In my parenting experience, conflict resolution comes down to time and place with an emphasis on time management. If trouble arises in a public setting, there’s an escalated urgency to diffuse it. A good old fashioned tantalizing offer can stamp out the brightest burning blazes if used effectively yet sparingly. For example, trading a cookie for short term compliance from your child reaps results quicker than a time consuming conflict filled with painstaking disagreement between parent and child. No disrespect to those who advocate emotional coaching, but there are simply real life scheduling issues that don’t lend themselves to open ended teaching moments. Still, I would suggest to not rely on your child behavior modification trump card aka bribery too often or you’ll end up routinely getting played by the wily rascals.Moderation has been a stalwart approach in my family’s day to day trials and tribulations but other families’ styles may differ. Template parenting doesn’t work no matter how many “millions of copies sold!” by the current parenting guru. I’d sooner defer to Star Wars Jedi Master Yoda’s wisdom about being assertive in one’s actions “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” Or emulate Star Trek’s Mr. Spock’s ability to detach himself emotionally during crisis scenarios enabling him to make rationale decisions. Balance, gauging the situation, maintaining respect, patience, humility and a healthy sense of humor factor into the mix of parenthood. It’s an ongoing challenge.
So is resorting to bribing your children a bad thing? It’s an open question you’ll need to answer. And perhaps the next time Parenting Experts implore you to buy their books coupled with a deep discount in price, you’ll think about the whole bribery question anew.
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