Bribing Kids to Eat Their Broccoli Isn't So Bad

Jacqueline Burt Cote
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boy eating veggiesEvery mom resorts to good old-fashioned bribery once in a while. Even Sheryl Crow takes a "try some of this and you can have some of that" approach with her kids to get them to eat their veggies. Bribery is frowned upon by discipline experts, but used properly (and sparingly), it does work: Two bites of broccoli for one bite of cookie; the promise to read a favorite book in exchange for cooperation at bathtime. Obviously if you go overboard, you're going to end up raising a Veruca Salt, but let's be honest: We even bribe ourselves.

Think about it: We all promise ourselves little rewards for good behavior, whether it's a glass of wine at the end of the day or a post-workout massage. It's human nature to go after the dangling carrot; why pretend otherwise? Toddlers are especially receptive to bribery, as they're just figuring out the whole actions-lead-to-consequences thing. Eureka! When I pull on the cat's tail, she makes that funny noise! So every time you follow through on your promise of chocolate milk after carrots, it's a win/win: Your kid eats carrots AND learns a lesson about cause and effect.

My only warning against bribing little kids comes from experience: Do not, under any circumstances, get into the habit of giving your kid a toy at the end of every well-behaved shopping trip. It might seem worth it when she's screaming her head off in the grocery cart, but someday when she's asking for an iPad instead of a super bouncy ball, you'll be sorry. Trust me.

Do you ever bribe your kids?

 

Image via Dabasir/Flickr

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