As far as getting our children to behave better at school, we are trying every kind of discipline we can.

From taking toys or blankets away for bad behavior to flat out bribery.

At first I felt uncomfortable when Adam introduced bribery. He told Jack if he got a good report from the teacher for 3 days in a row he could have the expensive dinosaur toy he’s been eyeing at Target.

Jack had a good day, then a bad day, then three good days in a row. Adam went out the next day and got him the toy. That evening while I was snuggled in the crook of Adam’s arm before bed, he told me that Jack asked for another toy. Adam, once again told him if he has 5 days in a row of good reports from his teacher he could have it.

“Wait, so you bribed him again? Are you going to keep doing that?” I asked. Isn’t bribery bad? Like illegal bad? I was starting to feel uncomfortable.

“Yes. I am. But the amount of days is going to get longer and the toys are going to get cheaper. I figure for $150 we can break him.” Adam replied.

I thought about this a while. I realized that I did the same thing on a smaller scale. Like giving Ben candy for going in the potty. It was a short time. In fact I think I ate more peanut M&Ms than he did. Pretty soon he was potty trained and went to the bathroom to do his business as a habit. He stopped asking for candy and I stopped giving it to him. Maybe Jack would just get used to behaving well too?

I also thought of all the things I did that weren’t working. Time outs, screaming, taking things away. All negative reinforcement. Bribery, on the other hand, could be construed as positive reinforcement, couldn’t it? I know Adam was happy to stand at the toy store and tell Jack how proud he was of him that he was buying him this toy for his good behavior. Sure was a lot less stressful and much more peaceful than the other stuff.

In the end I saw the wisdom in it. At the very least, I saw a strategy that was working. So this morning before school Ben asked if he could have an Ironman to match his Hulk toy.

“Well Ben, if you get a good report from your teachers for 3 days in a row….”

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