Friday 10 January 2014

Bribery, Incentive or Threat.........Motivation, Reward..........oh my poor head!

The following are definitions from the good ole Oxford English Dictionary.

"dishonestly persuade (someone) to act in one’s favour by a gift of money or other inducement"

"a thing that motivates or encourages someone to do something"

"a statement of an intention to inflict pain, injury, damage, or other hostile action on someone in retribution for something done or not done"

I have heard these three words used regularly, by parents, when trying to motivate(???) their children to do something for them/themselves/society!  It is one of my little bug bears, (of which there are many), but when I hear the words bribe or threaten levied at me, I am always quick to say NO I like to offer an incentive.   Although arguably said incentive can be used in a threatening way.

The whole thing we need to think about though, IMHO, is -  who is going to benefit or gain from the action/achievement?   I believe this is the crux as to the success of said role-play, which let's be honest, is what it comes down to.

As children develop there are very obvious mile-stones........ crawling, standing up, walking, toilet training, dressing themselves etc.   I have video footage of me trying to get Jasper to walk towards me, whilst holding out some chicken. It is cringe-worthy, and to be honest the reason why I have been thinking about this post.  It didn't harm him, he did in fact take the bait (ouch), but my running commentary mentions "donkey" and "carrot", well done mummy
oh dear!

Anyhoo, I digress........The right incentives can be successful with your children, if you know what works for them.  Sticker charts did nothing for Jasper, he didn't get it, but I know they can work very well for some.   I remember going to see a teacher in school and they said I must be very proud of all the gold stars Jasper had for his work?  I knew nothing of it, it didn't occur to him to tell us.  Whilst the teacher saw this as a reward for good work, to Jasper it was just a random sticker.

Fast forward, and all those development mile-stones pretty much achieved, and I have been trying, without success, to motivate/incentivise my children to do other things regularly...... open curtains, make beds, put shoes/clothes away etc.   Don't get me wrong, they are good kids and not complete slobs, but they will not take on board MY requests, and you know what, it's because its MY want and not their gain.  In this case, absolutely nada will help with this matter, and I have to get over it.

I have worked out that I am the only person in this house who cares what it looks like.  I wondered about going on strike, but I know I couldn't cope. Again, who is the only one stressing here, why MOI of course!

So here it is, I'm giving up.   The house will be a lot calmer without me running around demanding such actions in return for something they don't really care for.   I'll no longer have to hear them pleading "but I forgot".   Instead I will concentrate on equipping them with life-skills that will take them forward, as long as I can come up with good reason for them to take them on board.

Have I failed?  No I don't think so.  I believe I have just worked out what will work here, and make us all a lot happier as a family.   I still have my standards, but if I want to maintain them then that's up to me.    

Now, having said all that, "Reward" is another word to throw into the mix, and having worked out what does motivate my children, these will be used as required.

Jasper - money for Mr Simms, use of XBox, Heelies
To be used for:  achievement of Times be updated as required.

Scarlett - money...........
To be used for:  tbc, not had to be used as yet as she is very keen at school, but will remember for future.

AND these should NEVER be removed due to another misdemeanour, the reward must stand whatever!

Thanks for reading, would love to hear your opinions?

Annie x


  1. It will take time for the kids.
    But they understand more than you know.
    I hope you sort it.

    1. it's all fine, I just realised that I need to achieve MY goals and I can't expect the children to do it for me as it means nada to them, thanks for reading x