How to Bribe your Kids the S.M.A.R.T Way

Now I’m all for teaching right and wrong and I completely value showing children why at specific times, they need to behave in a certain way. However all parent will appreciate that sometimes you just need them to do something and no amount of sweet talking or stern glares is going to convince them. Take potty training or walking through airport security for example.

Step in bribery.

Obviously if you offer your child a giant bar of chocolate for putting on their shoes, you’re not likely to have any issues and said shoe will be on the foot before you’ve reached the goody cupboard but here are some tips to help keep those bribes S.M.A.R.T.


S – Specific:

Keep the instruction clear and precise. Instead of ‘stop doing that’ or ‘no more’, try ‘hold my hand’ or ‘sit still’. Also the actual bribe needs to be clear. ‘Something nice’ or ‘a little treat’ just isn’t going to cut it. If it was the other way around, you’d want to know whether you were getting a stale rich tea or a box of Thorntons for your efforts.

M – Measurable:

‘If you’re good, you can have xyz’ is a classic example of an unmeasurable bribe. What exactly do they need to do to get that ice cream or Peppa pig episode? Instead of ‘tidy the room’ they could be asked to put all the books in the bookshelf and blocks in the box.

A – Accepted:

With bribery, you need the recipient to be on board. Trying to encourage both of mine to use their cutlery with the promise of watermelon is only going to work with Jess. Emily wouldn’t care less. Her weakness is blueberries. I think she’d walk through hot coals for a handful of blueberries.

R – Reasonable:

Trying to get a toddler to do something they don’t want to do is hard enough so make sure that what you’re  asking is appropriate. Can they actually do the buckle on the shoes you’re asking them to put on?

T – Time bound:

This works both ways. Presumably, if you’ve resorted to bribery you’re in some kind of a hurry in which case, putting on a coat 30 minutes after you’ve asked isn’t going to be good enough for the reward. But on the flip, offering an incentive too far in the future is also not going to get your toddler to get a wriggle on either. Generally, the carrot needs to be pretty much instant.

So there you have it. Obviously your child does as they’re told and you won’t need to use bribery to get them to cooperate but I’ll leave this here just in case.



Don't just bribe your children. Bribe them the S.M.A.R.T way to ensure they do what you want.

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