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Do Bribes Work?

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

hile bribes often work in the short-term, they cause many long-term problems. Find out why bribing your kids causes more harm than good.

This is an excerpt from the book Parenting with Focus by Katie Ely.

· “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1 NIV)

When I first began teaching in the 1980s, bribing was very popular. Teachers would bribe their students with stickers, Friday movies, pizza parties, etc. in the hope of getting their students to obey. (While the teachers like to call them rewards, essentially, they were bribes.) And yes, it often did work. That's why so many teachers did it.

One year when I taught second grade, I had several students who all had been in the same first grade class. Their first-grade teacher was a briber! She gave them rewards (or bribes) for everything. What I noticed, though, was these students didn't want to do anything unless I gave them something for it. If I told them to pick up their trash on the floor, they would respond with, "What will you give me if I do it?" It took me a long time to get them to do something on its own merit.