Lasting Good Behaviour
Bona|July 2017

Bribery rewards and punishment can get your child to listen to you, but won’t necessarily lead to good manners. Find out how to discipline your kids for long-term results.

Kerryn Massyn

A well-behaved and polite child is any parent’s dream. Of course, children are going to break the rules as they grow up. This is a way of testing their boundaries and figuring out their place in the world. It’s therefore your duty as a parent to give your child the confidence and self-awareness to do this without getting into trouble. How can it be done?

BRIBERY IS MOMENTARY

“Whenever my daughter Lebo, who is three years old, refuses to eat her supper, I tell her that she can have a biscuit when she finishes her food. It used to work well, but now even the promise of a treat doesn’t get her to eat her veggies,” says Gugu Mafumo, a mom of one from Johannesburg. “Lebo has suddenly started saying she wants me to buy her new clothes or toys, instead of biscuits!”

This is a tactic that many parents have turned to, especially when trying to get a stubborn child to comply with what they want. However, parenting experts warn against bribery.

“At first, children are thrilled and excited, and will do anything to earn rewards. So, it will seem as if the act of bribery is working. But, after a while, they stop behaving unless they receive a reward,” says Kaashifa King, a parent education facilitator and counsellor at The Parent Centre in Cape Town.

“Additionally, children start to compare themselves with others and how they are being rewarded. After that, they may decide that it is too difficult to earn the rewards and start rebelling. As a parent, you want your children to demonstrate positive behaviour because it’s either the right thing to do, or because it will benefit them socially in the long run,” Kaashifa explains.

USING REWARDS SUCCESSFULLY

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