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bribing with candy

815 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  thirtycats
I just have to vent....

Although on VERY rare occasions, I have bribed my child with food (I think once) I am generally very much against bribing kids to behave...especially with food.

Anyway, so we went to my friend's neighborhood pool for swim lessons. There were about six kids there with parents. Almost the first thing the instructor said is "I have candy and if you're good you can have it after we're done. But you have to be good. You have to earn it!" I was horrified by this, but thought maybe it wouldn't be too terrible. Maybe at the end, she'd say everyone did great and hand out the candy. That's bad in itself, but not as bad as it ended up being.

About every five minutes, I heard her threatening a child with loss of candy. My DS lost interest in the first five minutes of class, so we dropped out and played on our own. But I kept my ears open and kept looking over at the class. For the majority of time (I think the class lasted an hour) the children had to sit at the edge of the pool and wait while the one teacher worked with kids individually. One little boy was terrified of the water. She was dragging him and scolding him for clinging to her and not the kickboard. She kept saying something like "If you want your candy, you need to listen and do what I say." This child was so scared!!!

I kept thinking if you made your class more interesting and actually knew how to talk to wouldn't need to keep threatning them with loss of candy.

I don't know how people get teaching jobs. The sad thing is when I first moved here, I actually worked at a school where teachers bribed kids left and right "If you come inside, I'll give you a marshmallow." It was so sickening. I quit that job.

Anyway, I think bribing is the number one method of discipline in Fort Worth...and that's one of the reasons we're homeschooling.
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Just thought of something....

Correction. I never bribed my child with food. I have been guilty of using food as a distraction.

My biggest sin was when I was desperate to cut my anti-haircut child's hair...I told I'd let him sit with the whole bag of candy corn and eat it while I cut. It worked like a charm. But I think it would be cruel to tell him "If you sit still while I cut your hair and behave very well, I'll let you have candy."
Was what that swim teacher did even "bribing"? If it is, then I don't do it.

I have been guilty of ocassionally saying something like "if we can get through the store without anyone grabbing anything else off the shelves, we can bring home some chocolate!" But then I don't repeat it, and if they get it they get it, if they don't I don't say anything unless they ask...
I am usually pretty against bribes/rewards/etc...especially those related to food....and think that what this swim teacher did was appalling...but have something to confess--

I just started taking dd to church again (after skipping her twos entirely--Greek mass is really long, and really just miserable with a 2 year old). She remembered church as boring, and simply didn't want to go. So, I promised to bring candy (a package of Smarties) each Sunday
: . There is no connection between the candy and an expectation to "be good"--she gets the candy regardless (and is just as quiet in church as she can possibly be, just because she is so sweet--must be all the sugar

I rationalize this as "something pleasant for her to look forward in church on Sunday, and motivating enough to get her to walk into the church willingly". But is it just a bribe?
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I try not to use food as a bribe, although like someone else said I do sometimes use it as a distraction. Kate always gets a lollipop during haircuts, for example. It just makes the whole thing more pleasant for everyone AND it makes the haircut itself seem like a treat because she doesn't get lollipops very often.

I have a very good friend--one of my best friends in the whole world actually--who has a daughter a couple of months younger than DD. My friend decided that she had had enough of changing diapers and was going to potty train her daughter at 2.5 yo even though the child was clearly unhappy about it, would fight putting on the underpants, and would immediately pee in the underpants as soon as they were wrestled on to her. Then my friend started offering her M&Ms for going on the potty, which worked like a charm for getting her to urinate in the potty. However, she still wouldn't have a bowel movement on the potty, so my friend started giving her candy bars--small ones but still!?!--for defecating on the potty!

I was (and am) appalled. I think that it is an eating disorder waiting to happen.
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As a teacher, I try not to bribe kids with anything, even something as small as a candy or sticker, for doing what they are supposed to be doing anyway. Besides making them expect things (I'll do it for a candy, they say) I think it takes away from the joy of doing things well just for the sake of doing a good job. I read an article once called "Gold Star Addicts." They took two groups of kindergarteners. One group colored and was happy. Theother group was given a sticker for every page they colored. They colored frantically, then got bored and stopped coloring. It took all the joy out of coloring and made the focus a stupid gold star. I sometimes randomly reward kids (with stickers, candy, or thank you notes) for a job well done.
I am guilty of using bribes at the doctor office. If you sit still you will get --. This does not mean my child (mainly middle child) cannot cry or scream but sit still. But also most of our doctors give out stickers or cookies at the end of visits. My kids know if they don't behave (no running or jumping) they do not get it.

I think it works with because I do not do it often and they realize this is sitting still is important. Plus they know I say what I mean and mean what I say. I have not had to use this at a doctor's office recently but if it helps, I figure it won't kill them in this situation.

I also found talking about the bribe in a painful procedure helped distract her.

But I agree there can be too much bribing and sticker giving in these situations. I saw those stickered out uncooperative kids at the Children's Hospital all the time.

**********My mom used bribery on my brother. He was going for allergy shoots. She wanted him to just sit still and not bite through the shot, crying and screaming was fine. He would run bite anyone close. Well she told him expected sitting behavior and he would get gum (treat in our house) afterwards. If he did not sit still and/or bit then he did not get the gum. This piece of gum got his co-operation because he knew he would not get it if he bit, ran, or squirmed to much he wouldn't get it. He got mad after the first time he did not get the gum but caught on. My mom talks about the nurse and doctors horrified face the first time she left with him kicking and screaming. She did not give in and give him the gum. Then the next week they praised him and her on his improved behavior.
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I am sure I have done iton occaision. I can't think of any. I also think there is a fine line, if any at all, between bribing, rewarding and distracting with candy. it is all the same "if you do x-I will give you candy", "if I givew you candy, I expect this behavior" I don't think it is always bad. sometimes it is a life save. I used to bribe/distract my dd with animal cookies (3 each time to be exact) to get in her carseat. she got in without bruising and we got on our way. it was totally worth 3 small cookies to avoid the struggle. and she will now is in charge of buckling everyone in the car when we get in and I don't have to give her cookies anymore so it isn't like I created a monster. I also rewarded/bribed her with a sticker everytime she went in the potty. again, she no longer needs this
she pees in the potty because it is just what you do.

I htink what the teacher did was wrong (she obviously had no teaching skills. there is usually little training past life gaurd training for swim instructors). She obviously wasn't handeling the class very well. I am appauled that parents let that continue. granted I don't pay for my dd swimming lessons (a membership benifit at the gym we belong to ) so if she is screwing around or too scared to follow instruction we just leave and try again next term. no big deal. Also since we are not paying the instructor doesn't feel obligated to make the children do anything to make the parents feel like thier money was well spent. they will send them out or just pick up where they are ("great bubbles, josee, everyone else, great breast stroke . . . "). By offering a reward the way she did she set up the expectation that the class would not go well.
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I just started taking dd to church again (after skipping her twos entirely--Greek mass is really long, and really just miserable with a 2 year old). She remembered church as boring, and simply didn't want to go. So, I promised to bring candy (a package of Smarties) each Sunday . There is no connection between the candy and an expectation to "be good"--she gets the candy regardless (and is just as quiet in church as she can possibly be, just because she is so sweet--must be all the sugar ).

I don't think that's bribing. I think that's along the philosophy of a-spoonful-of-sugar-helps-the-medicine-go-down. We use that. It's probably not the best nutrition wise...but I don't think it's that harmful.

My son hates going to the doctor and SCREAMS bloody murder. Afterwards, I get him ice-cream. It's not about him behaving or not. I try not to even mention the ice-cream beforehand. It's just my way of saying "Hey, I know that was hard for you. But you survived and here's some ice-cream". It kind of sweetens the experience. I think there are some things in life that are appointments, long car-rides, dentist appointments, etc. Having a treat afterwards makes the day a little less stressful and depressing.

But I don't think you need to use candy when something is pleasant/neutral. The reward of swimming class should be having fun in the water. If a child is scared of the water, than that is between the child and the parent. The parent should decide if they want to soften the day with a treat. OR maybe they'll be smart and hold off on the swimming lessons for awhile.

As for bribing...I don't know where I read it, but they were talking about how people think of that type of rewarding as positive discipline. But it really isn't. It's really a punishment. Because as the teacher said "If you're good, you'll get a lollipop", in a sense she was also saying "If you're bad, you will not get a lollipop".

I think to stop something from being a bribe, all you really need to do is change one tiny word. I have a friend who tells her son "When you get in the car, you can have a piece of gum." I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Eventually, he will get in the car and eventually he will get the piece of gum. But if she said "If you get in the car, you will get a piece of gum." But then what if he refuses to get in the car? What if she has to drag him kicking and screaming? Should he still get the gum?

The same mom...did bribe her son when we went to a museum together. At first, she bribed him with ice-cream. "If you behave, I'll get you ice-cream." The child did not behave. But everytime he didn't listen to her or did something she told him not to do, she'd either remind him about the ice-cream or sigh and say maybe what he was doing wasn't so bad. He got the ice-cream. That was half-way through our visit. Then she kept threatning to take him home. She held that over his head. But even though she kept telling him this was his last chance, they never left.

Anyway, I think when you make threats or bribe a child, either two things will happen a) you are going to have to go through with the bribe, hurting your child and probably also yourself. b) you're going to feel bad and give in to your child, making yourself look like a total liar.
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