Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bribery for Children

If you haven't raised a two year old in a while then you don't know what you are missing. It is all at once filled with fun and challenges. Life with Braden requires love, patience, wisdom, and many other traits. In fact caring for him requires an entire toolbox full of tools and techniques.

When raising a toddler there is no magic grouping of tools to solve all your problems. You can't fix everything with WD-40, duct tape, and vice grips like Walt Kowalski claims in Gran Torino. For Braden you need the entire Craftsman section of Sears.

One of my favorite tools is motivation. The proper motivation can turn any wild child into a perfect little angel. To many of us proper motivation as a child might have included the phrase "don't make me take off my belt!" Maybe your family had their own special version like "Don't make me hang you from the ceiling fan by your toes!"

Fear is always a good motivator, but what we initially found is that a more positive approach works better for Braden. You know the old you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar theory.

Arica is the absolute master of this technique. For some time we couldn't get Braden to eat anything. He would fight you to the death over a meal. He would even fight to get out of eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The only way to get him to eat was to offer him something of value. If you offered him a gummy for eating his meal then he would start chowing down. Proper Motivation.

We used gummies, cookies, stickers and other things to motivate the little man to eat. It was a breakthrough parenting moment for me. In my mind the official permission, even encouragement, to bribe my kid made so many goals seem a lot more achievable. All of a sudden parenting made a lot more sense.

Well as with anything in parenting as soon as you figure something out things change. Now Braden eats most of the time without any promise of reward, but there are still other areas where proper motivation is required. He might need motivation to quit running around the house so we can change his diaper. He might need motivation to pick up his toys or take his medicine. Motivation is necessary for kids of all ages and Braden is no different.

Unfortunately as his little rebellious streak grows and grows the sweet promise of candy is not always as enticing. It works sometimes, but it has to be balanced with the proper amount of discipline as well. Otherwise you just end up with a fit throwing kid with a mouth full of cavities.

So as times change so do our methods. The threat of a time out really does wonders for a kids behavior. I'll say it again. Proper Motivation.


Eric said...

For our almost 2 year old, she's the best at eating.. It's her older siblings. But we're like, if you don't eat you don't get a snack. If you don't want a snack, then too bad.

But because our almost 2 year old is pretty much the middle child, she get's upset a lot most likely out of lack of direct attention.

What works for her is taking her by the hand and asking her if she wants to help in a particular activity (setting the table, throwing something away, etc) it's the direct contact that she desires.

We've hung them from their toes.. They just color on the ceiling..

Brandy@YDK said...

I'm afraid that G is going to end up the fit thrower with cavities. I suck at discipline. so far threatening a time out works.

Katherine said...

"Otherwise you just end up with a fit throwing kid with a mouth full of cavities."

I love this. It is such a balancing act!

Captain Dumbass said...

Ah, two. I have that to look forward to in another two years.

Keith Wilcox said...

That is definitely true. I find myself constantly trying to figure out the best motivational techniques for the boys. It seems they change much quicker these days than do my methods. Little kids are very food motivated, or should I say candy motivated. Hmmm, a lot like Rabbits and squirrels! :-)

Rob said...

Great post. Usually telling the 2 younger ones no dessert if they don't eat works but sometimes we need to pull out the big gund and tell them if they would rather save it for breakfast that would be ok with us. LOL.