Is It Bad to Bribe Your Kids?

Marj Hatzell
6

brown tee with script
I got this lousy t-shirt
When your kids are diagnosed with special needs, you sometimes get to meet tons of new people. Suddenly, there may be tens (if not hundreds) of folks added to your child's care.

With our boys, we spent an average of six or eight appointments a month at our local children's hospital and got to know the staff intimately. They are lovely people, really. But four- or six-hour clinic visits to see multiple specialists can really be a drag. And by a drag, I mean it's like the portals of Aitch-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks or the equivalent to having your eyelashes plucked out. Except I sometimes think I'd rather they take the eyelashes. Just sayin'.

It only took one measly visit for me to figure out that despite the fact that they have computer stations, toy tables, and billions of books all over the hospital and attached clinic, the kids will STILL get bored. We spend much of the time either sitting in a reception area or sitting in a 9 X 10 room waiting to be seen. They are literally bouncing off the walls at the end of the day. The good news? Our local children's hospital has wagons to transport the kids from place to place, so that helps. They also have a very nice handicapable playground right in front of the clinic and a large interactive model train display. But it doesn't keep them busy for six hours or more. Or on overnight visits for EEGs. Or for sleep studies. Or MRIs or, well, you get the picture. I needed to come up with a plan. So I did.

Enter some bribery and the DuPont Bag (named after our clinic)!

I picked up a cheap, cotton tote bag. Then I went to the local dollar/discount store and stocked up on puzzle books (my kid is obsessed with sudoku and crosswords), crayons, pencils, picture books, sticker books, coloring books, you name it. They STAY in that bag. Meaning, they ONLY get to use the stuff in that bag when we have appointments. I even picked up a few $5 handheld electronic games for it. And the morning of the anticipated appointments, I stick in a few water bottles, juice boxes, granola bars, pieces of fruit, and fun-sized candy (for special treats). We typically buy lunch at the hospital cafeteria because this one is actually partially decent and the kids equate it with going to Disney. Plus, a little bribery goes a long way (did I just say that out loud? MY BAD).

Now, I'm not going to lie to you and tell you my method makes it FUN to spend six hours at a clinic. But it does make it much more tolerable. So if you're desperate, give it a whirl. You never know, you might come home with your eyelashes and fingernails still intact.

What do you bring to keep the kids busy for appointments?


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