Bribery For Dummies


hockey gearFor some reason I don’t understand – a statement that I often use these days – it’s a constant battle to get the youngest one ready for hockey.

I dunno why.

He seems to enjoy it. It’s not like he has to get ready for dental surgery or a day mucking out the stables, but man-oh-man, does he find a way to dawdle.

Now his mom seems awesome getting him ready. She’s massively patient. Determined. Focused. She makes it look easy.

But for me, it’s like…

“Boy, stop sticking toys in your ears and put on your socks.”

“Boy, why are you lying face down on the pillow when we have to leave in 2 minutes or be late?”

“Boy, why didn’t you go pee before we put on all your gear?”

pokemon cards“Oh my God, stop sticking Pokemon cards down your underpants and get your jock on. Pokemon cards will not stop a puck.”

This method, (oh, let’s call it the whack-a-mole-problem method), takes us about 3 hours to get ready.

Clearly, not good.

The second method I try is reasoning. “If you get dressed quickly, we won’t be late and being late is like the worst thing in the world because I look like a moron.” In hindsight, this seems less about him and more about me. It could be why it fails so spectacularly.

Some reasoning works, though. To be fair.

But the most effective method, by far, is bribery.

Oh, I know, I should be able to use reason and logic and my superior life experience to get a 7-year-old to get dressed quickly, hell, I managed hundreds of people over my life, but they are all pussies compared to a 7-year-old (except for one former store owner who was, for all intents and purposes, a spoiled child who NEVER grew up.)

So, yeah.


It works.

Me: “Here’s what I need you to do. Eat your breakfast in 10 minutes. Go to the bathroom. Get dressed in 10 min. And if you do, we’ll get a donut afterwards.”

Or, “…we’ll play NHL 14 when we get back, you and me.”

Something like that.

Today, though, I added used my phone as a stopwatch to count down the time. I mean, how was he supposed to know 5 minute had passed? ( other than me saying, “5 minutes have passed for the love of all that is holy and bright in the world and you haven’t even taken off your PJ top!!!”)

So, with a stop watch running, we made it a game. With a bribe at the end. “If we beat our best time so far, 10 minutes for breakfast, 5 minutes for bathrooming, 10 minutes to get dressed, (that’s 25 minutes for those counting), we’ll make fart noises for the whole drive to the arena.”

And it worked!

We tracked each segment.  He took it as a personal test of his abilities to beat those times and each time he did, I got a chance to praise him and how awesome he was, and at the end of the time period, he was good to go. With minutes to spare. In fact, he had so many minutes to spare he got a chance to play NHL 14 before heading off.

A total win-win. I am ridiculously pleased with myself. Plus, I got to make farting noises in the car for 10 minutes.

Bribery worked.

At least until he figures out what I’m doing.

Then, I suspect, I’ll have to shift gears. My hope is that he’ll be 35.

I welcome suggestions and advice.

0 Replies to “Bribery For Dummies”

  1. It works. Not just because its “bribery” (which actually it’s not), but because you’re teaching him time management skills, self-competition (competing against himself to get better – which has immense impacts in sports, btw), you’re making it fun (that’s brilliant! fart noises in the car all the way to hockey? For a seven year old? How can you lose?) and you’re showing him that deferred rewards can sometimes trump immediate gratification. That’s why it’s not bribery. He’s learning that getting to make fart noises in the car, which he has to wait for, can be more worth it than the play he’s doing instead of getting ready. The immediate play is fun, but obviously, fart noises are a lot more fun, and he needs to learn that lesson. Keep on doing what you’re doing. For a while at least! The deferred rewards get more expensive the older they get! A car to get hockey gear on means you succeeded brilliantly, but need to wean him off now.

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