Monday, November 9, 2009


I have a confession - I started bribing the Nugget this week.  One of my pre-parent parenting philosophies is children shouldn't be paid for good behavior, it should be the status quo.  "Haha!" God said, "Another slice of humble pie coming up!"

While I don't want to make bribes a lifetime habit, for 2 year old Nugget, they are working wonders and helping get him to use gentle hands much more consistently.  I'm following the Love and Logic approach, so it's not really a true bribe per se (although it feels like it to me).

Before we go somewhere where there will be other children, I tell him where we're going and what we'll be doing.  I lay down the ground rules - quiet voice, walking feet, gentle hands, etc.  Then since the pushing has been a major issue, I make the statement, "I give treats to boys who use their gentle hands."  The treat part is pretty non-specific, so it could be a trip to the playground, a cookie, a soft pretzel, stickers, a ride on the merry-go-round at the mall, a free balloon from a restaurant, a new book, borrowing a video from the library.  The way I feel less guilty about it is that I only choose small rewards that I was planning to give him anyway; he just has to "earn" them with good behavior.  I also don't use anything he NEEDS as a bribe (he doesn't lose outdoor exercise time or his special bedtime giraffe), and of course, sometimes I give him nice fun things that he doesn't have to earn.  When he earns his treat, I make a bigger deal over his good choices than the treat itself.  When he doesn't earn his treat, I empathize that it I know he tried, I love him, and that he'll get to try again soon.

I love that it's working, and that he engages in monologues about the system, which makes me feel that there's something in his little psyche that requires positive reinforcement.  The time outs were a band-aid on the situation, but he wasn't learning or understanding.

"Gentle hands, special treats.  Push - no, sad.  No pushing.  I hug friends.  I pat friends.  Friends happy!  Treats!"

And now after he gets a time out, I don't tell him what he did wrong, he tells ME, "Time out because I push friends - sad."

It's totally working.  I also realize that this is the same positive reinforcement I used very effectively with the dog and lots of zoo animals.  But still, I hate that I'm bribing him.  

Are you doing anything with your kids that you swore you wouldn't do?


  1. I love that Love and Logic gives them much more power and that's why they like it. Great job Nugget! It also enables us to really talk more about expectations. I am this close to using bribes right now. Noah is actually being very disrespectful during swim class. Technically, if I follow the idea of Parent Effectiveness training, I don't own the problem; the teacher does but she is not acting to change things so I have to step up. At this point though, I am asking him to be respectful to the teacher; if he can, then he gets to play with his trains. If he cannot, then we will have to wait until he can behave to bring the trains out again. I know that it sounds negative but believe me, after our little talk today he came to me later on and said: "Sorry Maman" and when I asked him why, he answered: "Because I made you unhappy and because I was kicking my feet at the pool". We are halfway there but I am not holding my breath yet.

  2. Oh, I'm doing tons more then I ever thought I would. We just won't get into that. I'm happy to hear that you have found a system that works for you. That will make things a little easier as you work through the 2's and into the 3's!

  3. Beautiful! He gets it and it's working! I just love that he can talk through the logic. How cute and cool.

  4. I love this! Good for you and Nugget!