Mean what you say

The other day I read this:

  • Tomorrow when we wake up, we're gonna have to get up EARLY so we can go get on the plane. If you're a good girl, I'll give you a fruity apple lollipop! No, I can't give it to you now. You just brushed your teeth. Besides, you'll need it tomorrow on the plane so your ears don't hurt.

Does anyone other than me see the problem with this? No, it has nothing to do with grammar or semantics (for those of you who keep up with that blog as well). This has everything to do with discipline and bribery.

First, I don't believe that bribery is appropriate. It teaches a child that they only need to do something to get something. I want to teach children to do and behave a certain way because that is the right thing to do. Things like candy, presents, and treats come just because. Sometimes when we are having a special treat (maybe ice cream) I might say, "We get ice cream because you did such a fabulous job today waiting patiently for me to finish my work."

I also follow it up with something to that explains that they shouldn't expect this every time they do the same thing; it's expected all the time. This is just an extra special time.

I also make sure not to make it a condition before hand, "If you do a good job waiting for me to finish my work then we will get ice cream." Nope, nuh-uh, no way. You need to do a good job waiting because that is how I expect you to behave. Period. That's it.

Depending on the age and development of the child, I may, during their waiting time, quietly give them verbal acknowledgement (you are doing such a good job, just a few more minutes). I would also have something else quiet for them to do while they waited (book, paper and pen, etc...). There's a reason we adults have games on our cell phones...we hate waiting with nothing to do! Don't make a child wait with nothing to do; that's just mean.

There are some extreme cases when I do think that a form of bribery is appropriate and necessary. Certain children have certain challenges that require the use of a form of bribery. This is only for some children though, not all.

The ultimate goal should be children having an intrinsic value to behaving appropriately; that's what makes them quality adults in the work force. Those employees who do the work because it's the right thing to do, not because they will get an award. Sure, the awards are nice; but they are so much nicer when you earn them from doing nothing more than just being you.

However, my problem with the quote above isn't the bribery. No. Can you see what it is? Let me put two phrases together and see if you can see it now:
  • If you're a good girl, I'll give you a fruity apple lollipop...you'll need it tomorrow on the plane so your ears don't hurt
Do you see it yet? She's going to give her the fruity apple lollipop no matter what her behavior is like! She NEEDS it on the plane. Do you really think that this parent is going to be cruel enough to say, "well, you weren't a good girl, so you have to suffer with your ears hurting"?

No, I don't think so. Worse, she showed her hand before the child even went to bed! How long do you think, "be good or you won't get your lollipop" is going to last? Not that long; and, well, you're going to give it to her anyway.

The lesson here is, "Don't say it unless you mean it." That goes for everything; this was just a great example I came across.

If you don't stop crying, we're going home! I mean it! Just as soon as I get the shopping done we're going home! Stop crying!

What do you really mean? I need to finish the shopping whether you cry or not. The crying is getting on my nerves. Please stop.

Do you see what I mean? You really need to mean what you say and say what you mean. Sure, there are times when you slip up and don't mean what you say; but if you're conscious about it, you will mean what you say more often and the children can't argue against that!

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