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Negotiating with a toddler


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#1 Monica

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 10:06 PM

At just over 2 and a half, Nina is very trying (normal I guess)
All of my time seems to be spent bribing her to get her to do normal tasks, nappy changes, eating, bathing, tidying up etc etc.
I don't bribe with food ie treats as she's simply not interested. It's more about going to the park, reading a special book, watching a DVD. Often it doesn't work.
I know this is normal behavior for a toddler but is it appropriate for me to be dealing with it like this?

We got Nina fitted for shoes the other day and it was a nightmare. I bribed her with a go on the jumping castle. The lady fitting her shoes told me she had a toddler the day before who she offered a sticker to if she tried on the shoes. The mother chastised the shop assistant for bribing her daughter. That got me thinking, am I going about this all wrong and if so, please help me, I'm exhausted.
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#2 ~Emma~

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 05:12 AM

Oh god, our entire day revolves around 'bribing'. Do 'this', and you can have 'this'!

I really hope it is an age thing, cause Im really struggling with this naughty little girl that has taken over my daughter sad.gif She is already dplaying her father and I off.. When she gets in trouble, she tells me "your not my frined anymore mummy, take me to daddy's" sad.gif

The worst is sleeping. Im finding myself bribing her EVERY DAMN DAY sad.gif She wont sleep in her bed all night. Usually she goes to sleep ok, then anywhere from 12am she ends up coming to my ed, and has massive tantrums to the point of spewing if i forse her back to her bed.

#3 Penny P Star

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 06:26 AM

I don't look at it as bribery - they are incentives to make the right choice wink.gif plus if you are firm about them not getting the reward if they don't improve their behaviour then its not a "spoiling" issue...

Honestly it is a much nicer option then threatening punishments etc. And I found it got worse at age three - I am a constant negotiator!!

I figure it is a good lesson in life - learning to weigh things up, that good behaviour works and bad behaviour doesn't..... (If only they learnt faster hehe!)

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 06:38 AM

QUOTE(Penny P Star @ Nov 30 2011, 07:26 AM) View Post

And I found it got worse at age three - I am a constant negotiator!!


Unforunately, I'm finding this too... Our current bugbear is that Cait has learnt to say 'May I please do/have/go...' and doesn't understand that it is still a request, not an automatic thing that she will be allowed to do. Tantrums ensue. They happen less often but with more intensity which matches what I'd heard about the difference in 2 and 3 year olds.

I do try not to negotiate too much, probably because I teach high school and encounter kids who think everything is a negotiation every day rather than just wanting to follow the same rules as everyone else. Don't know what I would have done in the shoe situation, Cait would have loved it. Most of our battles revolve around wanting more of something (easy, 'not two, one or none') or wanting to do things she's not allowed to (like stay in the $2 shopping centre rides forever, needing a grapple hold and carrying to the car...)

Plus, we usually have our treats when we get to the shop as I'm running horrendously late and she needs morning tea...

#5 mango

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 06:44 AM

I do it all the time too.

Something you might find interesting. Shayne Rowley (spelling) - Baby whisper was on Kerri-anne yesterday and she was talking about this exact thing for toddlers. She referred to it as Penny P Star does, as incentives to do the desired behaviour.



#6 chelley

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 06:52 AM

There is a difference between bribing and rewarding. Bribing is when the treat or item is given before the desired behaviour is demonstrated. A reward is given after the desired behaviour.

I agree you don't want to bribe children but there is absolutely nothing wrong in my mind with rewarding children - everyone needs incentives to do the right thing.

I could get a role as a UN diplomat after parenting a 3.5 year old.

I think negotiating as tiring as it can be shows your child you listen to them and are willing to compromise on some things and let them fee like they have some choice and control over their little lives.
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#7 Cole29*

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 06:59 AM

I don't see anything wrong with it and I do it with our 21 month old son. I just make sure that the incentive I offer him is something that is reasonable to give him anyway i.e. a biccie or a yogurt or if we are heading out to the shop (which he is obsessed with) I say "well we can't go to the shop unless you do XXX", the fact is we were always going to the shop but now I have just encouraged him to do as I have asked and he understands the 100%.

Of course at the age of 21 months I am not asking big things from him, usually just trying to do a nappy change, outfit change or something like that with minimal fuss rolleyes.gif

I think it can get out of hand if parents agree to give their children anything and everything i.e. "yes I will buy you that ridiculously overpriced item if you brush your teeth" and then if you start doing this every day I think you are setting yourself up for failure. But if you keep it simple with offering outings to the park/shop, watching a DVD, food treats which are a normal part of their diet anyway then I don't see the harm.


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#8 nephthys

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 07:01 AM

QUOTE(Monica @ Nov 29 2011, 11:06 PM) View Post

The mother chastised the shop assistant for bribing her daughter.

Oh, for crying out loud. rolleyes.gif Life IS a bribery. You are bribed with wages by working, you are bribed with accommodation and utilities when you pay your living expenses, you are bribed with better health if you exercise regularly, friendships if you are nice, etc, etc... negotiation and bribery is how we live as humans and they earlier you learn to negotiate and/or learn consequences of unsocial behaviour, the better. "Bribe" away, Mon.
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#9 Cole29*

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 07:03 AM

QUOTE(chelley @ Nov 30 2011, 07:52 AM) View Post

There is a difference between bribing and rewarding. Bribing is when the treat or item is given before the desired behaviour is demonstrated. A reward is given after the desired behaviour.


I agree with this also. In our house we say "yes you can have your yogurt AFTER a nappy change". Ben will say no a few times but then realises he really wants that yogurt and seriously a nappy change is no big deal laugh.gif

I have definitely come across children who received their treat beforehand and in my experience they start to just demand the treat and then don't follow through with whatever it is that has been requested of them.
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#10 nephthys

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 07:04 AM

QUOTE(chelley @ Nov 30 2011, 07:52 AM) View Post

Bribing is when the treat or item is given before the desired behaviour is demonstrated.

I've never heard of this definition. I've always supplied the reward after the task has been completed or like Cole said, the outcomes may not be as ideal.
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#11 jantastic

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 08:04 AM

Yes, it's a different definition to what I've been told- rewarding is more "I'm so proud of how well you started still while changing a nappy... Because you were so good, let's go to the park today!"
... Apparently this teaches that it's a good idea to be good all the time, just in case.

In saying that... I will TRY to do a mix of that and bribery (I have learnt to have an open mind till I've been there laugh.gif

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#12 tastebud

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 02:23 PM

QUOTE(chelley @ Nov 30 2011, 07:52 AM) View Post

There is a difference between bribing and rewarding. Bribing is when the treat or item is given before the desired behaviour is demonstrated. A reward is given after the desired behaviour.

I agree you don't want to bribe children but there is absolutely nothing wrong in my mind with rewarding children - everyone needs incentives to do the right thing.

I could get a role as a UN diplomat after parenting a 3.5 year old.

I think negotiating as tiring as it can be shows your child you listen to them and are willing to compromise on some things and let them fee like they have some choice and control over their little lives.


Don't have much time but agree with all of Chelley's post.

Additionally - there are some non-negotiables in this house. When smaller, my children got quite overwhelmed when given too many choices. They get decision fatigue and start to flip out! Just gotta read the situation and pick and choose the battles. Eg. I don't really mind what H wears - because all the fugly stuff 'disappears' wink.gif - but it must be temperature appropriate.

I'm always on to them about making good choices (via their behaviour).

Expectations are set early and are crystal clear. When we go to someones house / the dentist / walk / park / shops whatever we go through what is expected. They know if they don't behave they will not be welcome or receive privileges they enjoy.

Eg.
They ask for a ride at the shopping centre - only occurs at the end if they behave themselves.
They can't play nicely / follow instructions - they go in the stroller for a couple of mins.

This applies to everyday stuff as well as any outings. So in the morning they know what their tasks are, and that there is no bfast(!) / TV time / play time etc until these tasks are completed.

Anytime they ask for anything I look around and see if they've put their toys and shoes away etc.

I do distract with food from time to time but I try really hard to avoid bribing and rewarding with food.

I also have marble jars - this only really works for the 4yo at this point. They gain marbles for good behaviour and lose them for poor behaviour. It took G two months to get to the top of the jar but when he did we went to the $2 shop and he could purchase something.

It sounds like a boot camp but honestly there is more room for fun and laughter when I run things this way!
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#13 Mel B

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 04:37 PM

I'm past the toddler years, but I certainly wasn't above giving a few bribes. I'm not sure about the bribes/rewards semantics. To me if you say "do x and you can have a biscuit" is a still a bribe regardless of whether the biscuit is given before or after the fact!

But I don't actually think bribing is such a bad thing for little ones. I'm a pragmatist and if faced with a toddler about to have a full scale meltdown at the beginning of a shopping trip then I'm not against giving them a treat to smooth the way a little.

I tend to believe that a lot of unpleasant toddler behaviour is just a stage and I tried to get through it as unscathed as possible. I don't believe in turning everything into a battle ground and I'm wary of creating power struggles. My Mum was a big believer in choosing the hill that you're going to die on, and not treating every little thing as something hugely important because it leaves you with nowhere to go when things get really bad.

At my children's preschool they have given us a lot of information about natural consequences and it makes a lot of sense to me. If I teach my children to obey me by rewarding or punishing them, then what happens when you take me out of the equation? How will they learn to make their own decisions, for the right reasons, if there is no-one telling them what to do and dishing out the rewards and punishments? Anyway, that is more relevant after the toddler years, but they use this philosophy with 3 year olds at preschool and it seems to work.
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#14 shelly1170

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 09:54 AM

I'm another briber/rewarder! We've been doing it since the girls were toddlers.

We mix it up with punishment...sometimes if we ask the girls to do something we'll tell them they'll get something. Like at the shops if they are good for the whole trip, they'll get a flavoured milk for the trip home. Other times if we ask them to do something and they don't do it, we'll give them a warning and then there will be a consequence. Like picking up their toys, if they don't do it sometimes the toys go in the naughty bucket for a day.

I think the key to bribery is to make sure you follow through. So if you are rewarding for good behaviour, you have to be willing to listen to the ear-splitting screams and protests when they don't get the reward because they didn't do what was asked. Does that make sense?


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