Bribing your kids can work

Bribing your kids can work!

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I’m not above bribing our kids for a very good reason.

Here’s the situation.

We don’t believe in bribing the kids or offering them treats for good behaviors and such. We just demand and expect it and we get it 95% of the time  Hey, they are teenagers…sometimes puberty and tude take control and make them insane and unreasonable for a few minutes.

Well, last summer Sam got a bad habit of making this little “Mmphhh’ noise after having a cold and losing his voice during Hairspray. It’s like clearing his throat by making the sound – but not clearing it.

It’s a habit – an annoying one.

Even Shawn, who isn’t bothered much by stuff like repetitive noises, has gotten pretty annoyed and frustrated by it too so it’s not just Alex and I being picky jerks.

Sam hasn’t been able to shake it and over the past 9 months of being stuck with him in tight spaces, sleeping in the same room and even just sitting on the couch next to him… we’ve all wanted to end him. Like END HIM!

Imagine the most annoying and repetitive sound that drives you nuts and turn it on 24/7 for 9 months with no end in sight. Like fingernails on the chalkboard – horribly annoying and irritating and maddening.

We’ve tried a lot of different techniques and had a gazillion conversations. Meditation. Discussions of hypnosis. Reading blogs and medical advice. NADA has helped

The other day Alex about lost her mind sharing the same room with him. Like she was ready to cry and kill him at the same time.

We thought of tricking him with a placebo effect of giving him a vitamin and telling him it was to help with his habit… anything to make it stop.

Habits are mind over matter. If you believe you can break them and focus on it, then you will. I believe this fully.

2 days ago we were having another conversation about it with Sam and Alex and Shawn blurts out “if you can go the entire day without Making the noise, we will give you $10. I believe in you!”

Sam perked up and was like YES! That money is mine.

I then piped up and said “Nope, that money is mine because I don’t believe that you can do it!”

I love reverse psychology! If you tell me you don’t think I can do something (unless I know it’s reverse psychology) I will prove you wrong.

Sam was so irritated with me and believed that I didn’t believe in him.

I told him that if he could’ve stopped he would’ve by now.

He was even more irritated with me and even hurt.


Get mad. Get defiant. End the madness of making that sound.

I know he can do anything he sets his mind to but nothing, apparently, was worth it to him to quit until then.

An hour later he asked me if I really didn’t think he could do it and I explained that he could do it. He just had to want it bad enough. I wanted him to want it for himself so he knew he could control it and any other habits he picks up over the years. I told him that I just told him he couldn’t do it to make him mad enough to finally fix it.

He was a very happy kid to be reassured that I believed in him after all. He’s such a sensitive Sally and gullible. Who believes in the kid more than his mom? Okay… and Dad?

So, he went the entire day and didn’t make a single, damn, mmphhh sound. Until around 8pm when he let down his guard while packing for our next place. It was only one mmphhh so Alex and I told him that he couldn’t make a single other noise.

Up until then he made that sound at least 10 times an hour. Sometimes several times a minute. It was maddening.

We didn’t want him to stop working on it so we told him how great he’d been doing. Being only 15yrs old, he was more concerned with losing the money of course and was also disappointed in himself… but the money was the bigger disappointment.

The next day he could earn another $10 but because of the prior evening slip up we gave him his ultimatum: if he went the entire day and night with zero slip ups he would get the full $20 but, if he slipped up even once he’d only get $7 for the day before’s efforts.

He was a little worried about losing all that money so he was determined to get through the day.

This morning I transferred $20 into his account.

He is not only feeling wealthier but is also much more confident in knowing that he can control himself – if he chooses to.

So, while we don’t generally recommend bribing your kids, in this situation our sanity and building Sam’s confidence up was well worth $20.

He hasn’t made the sound a single time today and no money is on the line. Mission Accomplished.


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