Is it positive reinforcement, or a bribe?

Michelle - posted on 01/24/2010 ( 9 moms have responded )

387

38

27

Where does the boundary here lie? My fiance and I were discussing how we were going to handle things like behavioral issues, slacking off in school, just general disciplinary issues that will come up over the course of the next 16 years, and we are a little stuck here.
I completely believe in the differences that you see in children whose parents use negative reinforcement vs. those whose parents use positive reinforcement. But when does it become a bribe?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Krista - posted on 01/24/2010

12,562

16

847

I think that a lot of positive reinforcement can be either verbal or non-material. For example, with a smaller child, praise is a huge motivator. With an older child, a granting of certain privileges can make a big difference. I think the key is not to say to the child beforehand "If you do x, then you can do y." I think it would be more effective to only mention the reward after the fact, i.e. "You've been coming home before curfew every weekend. I appreciate you being so responsible -- it's nice that you don't make us worry. I think you've earned an extra half-hour on your curfew." Or, with a smaller child, "You and your brother have been playing so nicely today and haven't fought once. I'm very happy with you. How about we rent your favourite movie tonight as a treat?"

9 Comments

View replies by

Michelle - posted on 01/25/2010

387

38

27

Ooooh Amie, I like that last one in particular-- I would have loved that when I was a kid. Hell I'd still love a half an hour alone with my mom without my little sister barging in to whine about something lol

Amie - posted on 01/24/2010

6,596

20

412

We do different things each time. Sometimes they get a boost in allowance, sometimes it's a new toy they've been wanting, a game for their game systems, a shopping spree, they get to go out for dinner with one of us and choose where to eat, there's lots of stuff to pick from really when you think about it. =) Even just stuff like an afternoon with just mom or dad to sit and watch a movie together uninterrupted from the other siblings.

Michelle - posted on 01/24/2010

387

38

27

See the reason I brought this up is that my mom took away privileges all the time and it just didn't work. A week without my cell phone sucked, but no so bad I didn't mouth off to her next time I didn't like what she said. A month without going out during the week sucked, but not so bad I turned in all the my homework next time. Etc, etc, etc. I don't want to have to do that as much as my mom did. I just became numb to being grounded. I like the idea of not telling them about rewards until after-- I can see that as working really well, as long as it's not like they KNOW they're going to get it (like if you do the same thing every time lol).

Mel - posted on 01/24/2010

5,539

58

228

I like Kristas idea. I dont remember my mum bribing me though but she just took away priveledges. No tv for a week, no gymnastics for a week, no coming on holidays with them etc. So that worked for me sometimes except I still kept playing up and I used to watch tv from the hall way when mum was in the gamesroom. But I wouldnt have a clue how im going to be but I guess Ill probably end up doing what Krista said I most likely wouldnt tell my child if they do something I want them to do they can have this etc because that means I would have no control. having to bribe kids to get them to behave shows lazy or bad parenting

Krista - posted on 01/24/2010

12,562

16

847

I'll have to bookmark this thread so that I remember what I wrote, down the road when I'm bribing my kid with lollipops.

Amie - posted on 01/24/2010

6,596

20

412

Positive reinforcement isn't a bribe. When it's done as intended (as Sara and Krista have pointed out) it's not informing them of the "prize" until after the desired outcome is reached. When it's done enough times though a child just knows what is expected and acts accordingly because they know that the positive will follow, instead of a negative (time out, loss of toys, etc.).

[deleted account]

Just thought I'd add...



My husband and his siblings were paid for good grades. $5=A $3=B $1=C.

This did nothing to make my husband want to work harder to make good grades. His sister was a straight A student (so got $45/report card!) but she said it wasn't the money that made her want to get good grades. She knew she wanted to go to college and liked the feeling of getting good grades.



My sister and I were not paid by our parents for good grades. My grandmother gave us $1 for an A but that was never on my mind when I was working for my good grades. I WANTED "A's" and it didn't matter what I was going to get or not get for them.



So I think that bribing kids to make good grades is pointless. I think the effort should be rewarded, not the grade itself. If a student is trying and still only gets a "C" and disappointment from teacher and mom, what is going to make that student keep trying? (I think that may be what happened to my husband)That goes back to your thread on grades, Michelle. =)

[deleted account]

I think its only bribe if you are trying to fix a bad behavior in the moment. For example, "If you stop whining, I'll give you a cookie." Life is full of positive reinforcement. Go work, get paid. Do a good job at work, get a promotion. Study, good grade.

Like Krista said, right now with our toddler her positive reinforcement is praise, hugs, kisses and high fives. As she grows older we plan to pay a small commission for odd jobs done around the house that go above and beyond cleaning her room and toys. I don't see that as a bribe, because like I already said, do work get paid. And it will be the beginings of teaching money management (hence the life courses thread, lol). As for school issues, we haven't thought that far yet. For me the good grades were enough to make me work hard. My husband was different, he just didn't care if he got bad grades. So we'll wait and see how our kids are with school and go from there.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms