Let’s Talk About “Bribing” Our Kids

Parents often talk of “bribing” their child and, when they use the term, there is a sense of ‘doing the wrong thing’, making the situation worse, and even a sense of guilt. However, in actuality, when using the term, parents are often simply conveying the idea of giving their child something extra to promote obedience. I would suggest, by that definition, we all “bribe” our kids on a daily basis.

Are we all going to jail?

Well, yes, we would be if, in fact, we were offering bribes. You see, giving a “bribe” is illegal. So, if you bribe anyone for anything, then off to jail you go.

So why aren’t we all in jail?

Because we’re not bribing our kids. A bribe is an incentive, often in monetary form, to promote something corrupt or illegal.

Are we doing that?

Nope, we’re not. Instead, we are simply giving our kiddo’s some incentive to behave. That’s not illegal. In fact, it’s very legal, and quite wise.

Why is it wise?

We all need an incentive to accomplish goals. We hope that the incentive is internalized (i.e. our kids do the chore because they want to and realize that it’s just ‘the right thing to do’) but for many kids, that’s just not the case. Also, in all fairness, sometimes it’s just harder for some kids, with ADHD for example, to pay attention and stay focused; they are using far more energy than other kids to accomplish tasks and they tend to tucker-out quicker. Consequently, we need to provide some external motivation (a reward or prize) for them to exert that extra energy and then fade the reward over time as the child matures, learns better coping skills, and internalizes the motivation. It’s not much different from you getting a paycheck for doing your work, though hopefully, your paycheck does not fade over time. In any case, we all need motivation of some sort.

Hope that helps

It’s a brief explanation, but I hope that helps to clear up the difference between a “bribe” and simply offering an incentive for your child to complete their chores. Now go give those bribes, oops, I mean rewards.

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Dr. John Carosso
Licensed Child Clinical Psychologist and Certified School Psychologist at Community Psychiatric Centers
Dr. Carosso has more than 30 years of experience as a licensed Child Clinical Psychologist and Certified School Psychologist working through his own practice, and in residential, inpatient, outpatient, school, and home settings. He is a partner and Clinical Director of Community Psychiatric Centers (cpcwecare.com), a licensed Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic, and operates both the Autism Center of Pittsburgh (autismcenterofpittsburgh.com) and the Dyslexia Diagnostic and Treatment Center (dyslexiatreaters.com).

Dr. Carosso, who holds a Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavioral Analysis in Special Education, has conducted more than 20,000 evaluations on children with autism, learning problems and dyslexia, attention-deficit, trauma, depression, bipolar, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and related difficulties. He has supervised dozens of clinical teams and regularly provides consultation to organizations, agencies, and parents at 6 office locations in four counties counties. Dr. Carosso also has presented at regional conferences, served on the advisory boards of local autism societies, and has served for over 10 years as an evaluator and expert witness in child welfare cases.

He produces a video series, "Dr. C's Morning Minute," that provides helpful strategies for effectively managing childhood autism, ADHD, and behavioral, emotional and learning issues. Dr. Carosso formerly co-hosted the Live weekly PCNC cable television program "Community Psychiatric Centers Presents", targeting child mental health issues, and was a regular guest on various talk shows, including "Night Talk", discussing childhood issues and related current events.
Dr. John Carosso

Dr. John Carosso

Dr. Carosso has more than 30 years of experience as a licensed Child Clinical Psychologist and Certified School Psychologist working through his own practice, and in residential, inpatient, outpatient, school, and home settings. He is a partner and Clinical Director of Community Psychiatric Centers (cpcwecare.com), a licensed Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic, and operates both the Autism Center of Pittsburgh (autismcenterofpittsburgh.com) and the Dyslexia Diagnostic and Treatment Center (dyslexiatreaters.com). Dr. Carosso, who holds a Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavioral Analysis in Special Education, has conducted more than 20,000 evaluations on children with autism, learning problems and dyslexia, attention-deficit, trauma, depression, bipolar, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and related difficulties. He has supervised dozens of clinical teams and regularly provides consultation to organizations, agencies, and parents at 6 office locations in four counties counties. Dr. Carosso also has presented at regional conferences, served on the advisory boards of local autism societies, and has served for over 10 years as an evaluator and expert witness in child welfare cases. He produces a video series, "Dr. C's Morning Minute," that provides helpful strategies for effectively managing childhood autism, ADHD, and behavioral, emotional and learning issues. Dr. Carosso formerly co-hosted the Live weekly PCNC cable television program "Community Psychiatric Centers Presents", targeting child mental health issues, and was a regular guest on various talk shows, including "Night Talk", discussing childhood issues and related current events.

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