I Caved

I, like everyone else out there, am not a perfect parent. But I do try to do the best I can, and there are specific lines I will not cross. (Insert image of Gandalf here, yelling "You Shall Not Pass!") Well, since I've broken my wrist, one of my "lines" has not only been crossed, but to quote a line from Friends "You are so far over the line...the line is a dot to you." I am speaking, of course, of bribery. With my first 2 kids, the only time I ever used bribery was for potty training. I worked well, and it became very clear to me that my oldest (at age two) had great bladder control when she peed 5 separate times in 20 minutes, simply to get the candy. I had seen other parents use bribery often, and I had come to the conclusion that it was counterproductive, making their lives more difficult in the long run, and it wasn't doing the child any favors, either. I read books that convinced me of its evils, and I decided early on in my parenting career that bribery was not going to be a tactic employed in this family (see above exception). And it's really worked out fairly well...until now. Toddler yells every time I come near him to buckle him into his carseat. "NO! I DO IT!" He arches his back, crosses his legs, shrieks, rolls over, you name it. Well, since driving around without him strapped in is another line I won't cross, I have the option of letting him do it, which takes 20-30 minutes and is still unsafe, or I can wrestle him into submission. Wrestling him one-armed is a battle I can't win. (I feel like the one- armed man from "The Fugitive" but without the whole wife-killing thing). He's extremely strong and extremely wiggly, and he'll win every time. But if I say "Hold still, let Mommy buckle you, and I'll give you some chocolate," he jumps right in, puts his arms in the straps, and the shriek fest is over. I simply have to wipe his face when we reach our destination. Hmmmmm...... Same thing with changing poopy diapers one handed. It requires him to lay very, very still of his own accord, which rarely happens, or I have to hold him down with my feet ("NO MOMMY!! STUCK!!!). Or I simply wave a cookie in front of his face, and he is as still as a statue until I declare him all clean. Getting him dressed when he'd really rather play with balls...well, you can see where this is going. I have totally caved, and am now regularly using bribery, even though it goes against my sense of "good mommying". The thing is, I want to go back to no bribes when the cast is off, and I know it's not going to be pretty. So if you see a woman driving around left handed, with a car full of kids and chocolate (or flavored Altoids work well, too, and don't even require the face wipe. SEE how over the line I am, when I'm getting BETTER at it?), just pray for her, because she has fallen into Shadow, and I'm not sure even Gandalf can save her.


Anonymous jamisue said...

Don't think of it as bribery, think of it as positive reinforcement of good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior.
(O.K., I caved a long time ago).

1/10/2006 06:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan M said...

My parents were visiting for Thanksgiving and I was trying to get the kids ready to take a family portrait. My youngest, who is incredibly stubborn, was refusing to take part. I tried reasoning with him and realized pretty quickly that he wasn't going to budge, so I said fine, let's go get some lunch instead. But I was ticked, and my mom didn't want to give up, she took him off alone and tried to bribe him. On the way to the food court at the mall, he told me, "Grandma tried to BRIBE me. That's bad! She said she'd give me $5 if I agreed." I said, "Hey, I'd have tried that myself if I'd thought it would work."

Of course once we ate lunch he was fine with it and we went to a park and took some pictures.

1/10/2006 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger TftCarrie said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/10/2006 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger TftCarrie said...

I believe there is a time and place for every kind of parenting technique. Sounds like there is no better time for bribery than what you describe!

1/10/2006 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger marian said...

STUCK!!! is a phrase I hear quite often with my 2-year-old, usually because of a car seat or due to a parent pin-manuver. I can't imagine trying to do it all one-handed, I know I'd resort to chocolate myself. And yes, it will be very very ugly when you're back to full strength, but then again, there's always something pretty ugly going on with a 2 year old, at least this one you'll have time to prepare for.

1/10/2006 09:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Just wanted to let you know that I tried to change diapers one-handed yesterday, in your honor/as a show of solidarity(?). It was not fun, and I quit once there was clear danger of poop getting on the carpet.

I say that bribes are a part of life. Would I go to work twice a week if I didn't get the paycheck which pays the mortgage? Probably not--and I really love my job. That being said, it is a job, and I have it primarily b/c of the 'bribe' associated with my good behavior of showing up, and performing very well.
Hang in there!

1/10/2006 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger Mo Mommy said...

I say that there are extenuating circumstances which require you to find a solution to which all parties are amenable.
If extenuating circumstances are good enough to get you a lighter sentence in a court of law, they should be good enough to get you a lighter sentence with yourself.
Twizzlers might work good, easy to transport, not usually messy to eat, and good for chewing on to relieve stress.

1/10/2006 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

elizabeth -

I am so touched/honored/horrified that you would try to change a poopy diaper one handed just for me. It makes me smile.

But if you really want to show solidarity, try showering with a garbage bag over your arm. "Lather, rinse, repeat" takes on a whole new dimension. :)

And Twizzlers! What an excellent bribe! My kids currently are into Sour Apple Altoids, as am I. They are tasty. Mmmm.....

1/11/2006 12:05:00 AM  
Blogger Bek said...

Sure, you might have to undo all of the bribery stuff. But can that really be any worse then trying to change one handed, buckle one handed, etc. Combine all the frustration and time of trying to do that w/ out the bribe and it is about the same as a few days of hell on the other side. PLUS, you didn't have to do all the wrestling.

When ever my kids come home from Grandma's I have a solid week of torture. My friend calls it "behavior bootcamp". You have to call the kids and give consequences if half a toe goes over the line. After a few days, they know you mean business and it gets back to normal. It is worth it for the chance for them to see Grandma. Same thing.

Good Luck===

1/11/2006 12:14:00 AM  
Blogger Abby said...

Um, I'll I can say is my baby has about 8 words, but the most understood are mommy and treat.
Does anyone want a tic tac??

1/11/2006 01:25:00 AM  
Blogger Kage said...

Bring it on, and it might help if you bribed yourself a little bit too.

My mom's fave story is when she was in primary and had to give a talk for the whole ward. She just stood up there silent and staring, embarrassing my grandma. My grandma finally got up and whispered in her ear that she would buy her a Barbie if she would give her talk, and voila, all of a sudden she had the power of speech, and the next day, a new Barbie.

1/11/2006 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

At our house we have the saying that it's only bribery if it is connected to something illegal or immoral, otherwise it's an incentive. (My husband is a teacher and incentives, even very little ones work great. He has teenage students who will read for 10 min a day for one(1)M&M)

1/11/2006 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger marian said...

bek, I'm with you on the behavior bootcamp. we lived with my parents for 4 months this summer/fall, and I'm still recovering my control.

1/11/2006 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger Bek said...

Living with grandparents takes it into the a whole new level. You don't need bootcamp...you might need to bring in a drill sargent...

My mom and dad had THREE of their adult children (and families) with them for a few months over the summer..while homes were being bought and sold, etc. Spoiling three familes at one time...that is grandma heaven!!!

Good Luck...

1/11/2006 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

I think you can consider these extenuating circumstances. Bribe away.

And think of it this was-Toddler won't always be in a car seat, nor will he always need diapers changed and clothes put on him. So, if you can't go back to the non-bribery thing, the need for these particular bribed behavior will only last a year, 2 tops. You're skinny--everybody in your family can handle a year or two of M&M's tossed their way now and then!

1/11/2006 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger Bridget C said...

Now see, I am starting potty training this week and I hadn't even thought of candy for successful poopage. I think I will try it out! Yahoo for bribes!

1/12/2006 01:15:00 AM  
Blogger Mardell said...

I feel for you I broke my elbow two summers ago. I was really hard being not only a one-handed mom, but a left-handed one. Sullivan got really good at using the microwave and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

1/15/2006 01:03:00 AM  

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