What is the difference between a bribe and a reward? A bribe is generally described as a payment in return for a desired action. A reward is described as something of value that is given for an achievement. At first glance there isn’t much difference. One area that makes a huge difference is your parenting style.
Bribery generally has a negative connotation. Parents often use it in the heat of the moment. You may see it being used in a grocery store when a child is misbehaving. Parents promise treats in order to re-direct undesired behavior. Another example may be offering TV in return for homework. Both scenarios are attempting to generate good behaviors by promising items that may not agree with a parenting plan. It appears to work in the moment but you are also teaching your child that by acting out they can get that candy bar or by holding of they can get more time on the TV. Another thing to consider is that following bribery, parents report feeling bad and taken advantage of.
A reward is offered following positive behavior. The receiver knows what they want and what they should do to attain the prize. You can think of a paycheck as a type of reward. You perform duties that are spelled out for you in a job description. Athletes work towards their reward through hard work and consistent effort. There is a goal and positive reinforcement. Using rewards as a parenting model not only empowers the parents to list their expectations, but also puts boundaries on how and when rewards can be expected.
For all parents I suggest brainstorming what you want from your child. Having a system in place where you can reward success based on these goals will ultimately lead to better behavior in the long term.
Vlinder, a behavior modification program, was created with this in mind. Vlinder is a list of expectations that can easily be accomplished throughout the day. Depending on the efforts put forth a set of rewards are offered. The process of participating in the program offers a daily lesson in communication, stress management and time management. The goal is to provide a family experience which supports each individuals growth as a parent and child.