When children develop a will, the game changes. Missy won’t just mindlessly do whatever I tell her anymore. (I say that like she ever did do what I told her.) She now wants to know a bit more information before committing herself to a course of action. That, or she just decides whatever it is I want done, it’s not for her, and so there!
So what to do with a child that is happy to roll around in mud, but not so happy to have a bath before bed? What to do with a little girl that will not get into – or out of – the car seat?
I bribe her, that’s what.
Missy loves to watch DVD’s and TV. She is somewhat restricted, as my wife and I are reluctant to let her while hours away in front of a box. When she is older and has her own kids, there will be ample time to relax with mindless TV.
This also brings up a touchy subject. How much TV is enough? In keeping with my strict policy that I never give advice to other parents, the amount of TV a child watches, sweets they consume; bed time and anything else you can think of, are the sole domain of the child’s parents. I can advise what works for my little girl, but that doesn’t mean my wife and I are right (or wrong). It simply means we follow a course of action that works for us, or they are the limits we impose. If another parent is comfortable with their children watching TV 10 hours a day, or no hours a day – it’s not my issue. Children and parents are all different.
And so, TV controversy avoided, let’s wade chest deep into the un-contentious issue of bribery.
If I slip a policeman $50 not to book me for speeding; if I send one million dollars to a politician, promising my vote if he will let me raze a forest of old growth trees; if my child gets to go to a good school at the expense of a more worthy child because I “donated” heavily to the new library – that’s bad. Maybe I am being hypocritical, but promising Missy an episode of her favourite cartoon for eating peas, seems, well, less corrupt.
I do realize it’s a slippery slope to disaster, to link behaviour with rewards. But Pavlov aside, at her age, she is not quite controllable. Kids her age run onto the road for no other reason than they don’t have the capacity yet to properly discern danger, nor, it seems, the capacity to acknowledge my omnipotence…. Come to think of it, no one in my family has developed that capacity. How strange.
But anyway, when I want Missy to put on proper shoes, or wear clothes out to the shop, rather than going nude, I sometimes sweeten the deal with the promise of TV, or a lollipop. It saves our family a lot of crying and angst, from me.