My sole goal is to avoid a major pint sized meltdown at. all. cost. I have employed both of these tactics (at times, simultaneously!).
I have fine tuned and mastered the art of child bribery. My finest moment as a mom.
Typically when out shopping I am already teetering with fatigue, keeping my sanity, I am alone with two toddlers, outnumbered and most often out smarted. Often, Addison or Jackson (sometime both Addison & Jackson) will get restless, start whining, even crying in the middle of the grocery store. As much as I would like to think I can handle it, in many cases, the bribery option makes the most sense and works most quickly. At this time, I tell them if they are quiet for mommy I will go to the bakery and get them each a sugar cookie. If I get the cookie before I begin shopping, they both have it devoured half way through my list. This way they are quiet while I get the majority of the items off my list while patiently waiting for that coveted cookie.
When it comes to dinner Addison is very difficult. I try to get through the meal with little chaos. Addison if you eat your dinner you can have a treat. I have recently found that this particular tactic backfired. Case in point the “I am mad and mad girls don’t eat” night and most recently, Addison was not eating her dinner. We told her if she finished her plate she could have a treat- an Italian icee. A few more minutes passed and Addison still had not taken a bite of her chicken…
Addison: I am ready for my icee.
Mommy: You did not eat your dinner. After you finish your dinner you may have one.
Addison: but I am ready for it now mommy.
Mommy: Addison what did I just tell you?
Addison: (after an extended blank stare)...now mommy? please? can I have my icee? I want the red one.
This back and forth went on several minutes.
Addison: Mommy you are wasting my time and making me mad. Mad little girls are not happy and don’t eat their dinner. Happy girls eat their icee.
Clearly mommy is outsmarted.
I think the problem is we all have an "ideal" world in which we have been socialized to base our parenting skills, but in reality, being able to keep up with this Utopia is impossible for even the most patient of parents. This is why I resort to bribery. But, I also think it teaches them a valuable lesson. That sometimes you have to work for the things you want and if you work for it you can be rewarded for your good behavior.
I think it's time that we as parents give ourselves a collective break - in other words, stop being so hard on ourselves and feeling so guilty. If it helps us keep our sanity and if it works than why the hell not?
Do you use bribery or negotiate with your children?