discipline for young kids

Parenting Hack: the bribery point system that works

August 24, 2015

Before I had kids, I thought bribing your child to do something was akin to derelict parenting. In fact, I thought it was derelict parenting. I thought children should be treated like mini-adults, such that once they hit about 4 years old, they would understand the causal relationship between action & consequence and sorry, pal, you blew it, try again, would work. Bribing them with baseball cards, ice cream, trips to the train store, opportunities to get out of bed earlier and go to bed later, I mean, who would do such things? ME! ME! I used to say, Don’t do this or that or you won’t get this or that. And then I’d have to make good on my threats. And it always felt like a threat. I do bribes with glee, but threats–I end up feeling like a curmudgeon. And then have to constantly dole out a unique or (worse) oft-repeated punishment when they inevitably do not listen and obey. But beyond just saying it aloud (which goes in one adorable ear and out the awful one), I’ve finally landed on a tried & true method of pure incentivizing that actually works and has durability. It has lasted over a month. The subjective and indiscriminate point system. Here’s how it works: They start out at zero. The five year old has to hit 15 before the promised action//gift//treat. The three year old has to hit 10. And anything and everything can give and taketh away points. You hit your…

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