Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Do Bribes Work?

Do Bribes Work
Parents are always looking for ways to motivate their kids. A as an example, with school in full swing some parents use money as a motivator for grades. If you are one of these parents, chances are you do not offer up the funds at the beginning of the semester in anticipation of the good grades. You’re probably thinking “Of course not! I want the proof (grade) first.” True! That is the key difference between a bribe and a reward.

A bribe occurs before the expectation is met in hopes that it will be met. A reward occurs upon completion. A bribe does not increase the likelihood of the behavior occurring or repeating. The idea behind using any form of reinforcement to change behavior requires several key pieces:
1. Clearly outline the behavior you want to see, rather than focusing on what you don’t want to see.
2.  Define a clear time frame for this expectation to be.
3. How successfully this will be achieved is clear. 100% performance is not realistic.
4. The reward delivery is noted. (what and when)
5. Follow through and feedback at regular intervals to support the behavior you want to see.
6. The agreement is short term and time limited.

I am not condoning or condemning the reward of grades. It’s simply a concrete example of the difference between a bribe and a reward. You can reward a multitude of behaviors based on what you want to address or the behavior you want to shape. This includes anything from following through on responsibilities, using respectful language, sharing, etc

Rewards and goals that I speak with parents about increase independence, responsibility and respect. They are used to quickly move away from a crisis in order to address the bigger picture. Privileges to use t.v., video games, computer time, etc are earned (keyword) for completing responsibilities. Today, with access to so many “things”, parents often feel overwhelmed and stuck when their children act entitled or act out when they didn’t get what they wanted or didn’t get enough of what they wanted.

There is a system behind using rewards effectively as a short term parenting intervention and for reshaping un-desireable behavior. There is evidence supporting behavioral interventions as the most effective, long term and positive means of changing behavior. Once the behavior is addressed and parents can understand what the real goal of a child or teen’s behavior is they can modify their parenting strategies to raise respectful, independent kids, to avoid power struggles and have happier families.

Contact me if you want to know more about how to create change in your family and in as few as six weeks you can see dramatic change in your family, your kids and yourself.