Bribery for Behavior: Using Their Need for Parental Attention To Your Advantage

One of the reasons why parenting is so exhausting is the sheer amount of attention your rugrat requires. What’s worse is that they know you are obligated to pay them their attention and they use it every single chance they get.

However, this obvious weakness of theirs is by far one of the best weapons in parenting, if used correctly. While I am not saying completely abandon and neglect your spawn (not unless extreme measures are called for), I am saying if you teach your offspring that your attention is a reward delivered for certain behaviors, then they will pretty much mind you until they reach their teen aged years (and that is a whole separate battle).

Here’s how it works. When your mini human starts acting like an entitled monster, tell them they are being little horrors and then ignore them. And not just ignore them; blatantly remove yourself from their vicinity. Tell them that until they start acting like more civilized creatures, you don’t wish to be around them and then just get up and go. However long enough you keep this up is depending on the severity of their monstrosity and how much of a break you need from their constant yammering. Some parental units will leave their offspring for days or weeks at a time.

Now, some have raised the question of “what if they follow me?”. Simple. Tie them up THEN leave them. If you don’t have suitable ropes, duct tape will work in a pinch. You can even have a designated spot for your child when they are being ridiculous. This can be an oversized dog kennel or a bare, no-nonsense room.

Taking this approach will do one of two things to your spawn:

1.       It will teach them what behaviors are acceptable and which are not. It will also terrify them into behaving for fear of losing your attention/ presence. This means they will behave more often than not.

2.       Your child will also learn self-sufficiency and self- soothing which means that there will be less actual parenting for you to do. 

On a side note, if you have more than one offspring, it may be beneficial to start giving one more attention than the other. Play favorites and make sure everyone knows. To keep them on their toes, switch up your favorite based on who is being good. This will up the sibling rivalry and make each of them strive for your approval even more.

Happy Parenting!