Sunday, September 28, 2008

An incentive

I'm about to impart a major piece of wisdom to those of you who have children who are younger than my son. Or maybe even to parents of children with kids around William's age.

When you have a tantrum-prone child and you have to take said tantrum-prone child to Target or the grocery store or wherever, find something inexpensive that he or she really likes and promise it to them if they behave nicely in the store.

Did I just hear one of you whisper the word "bribe"? Yes, I think I did. 'Fess up. That's what you were thinking, weren't you? Au contraire, my friends. I just prefer to think of it as an "incentive."

For me, the "incentive" is a piece of string cheese. See, that's not so bad. It's not like I'm tempting my child with a Snickers bar or something. When we go to Target, William gets a piece of string cheese. We go to the food section, stroll on up to the cheese display, and I ask him which kind he wants. He always wants the same kind, so I hand it over and he carries it with him until we reach the check-out counter.

It, er, took a few times to convince him that he was just supposed to hold it and not gnaw through the plastic wrap. But he knows now. Today, he even told the lady in front of us in line that he was holding it but couldn't eat it until Mommy paid for it. I didn't actually hear him say this because I had stepped over to the adjacent aisle to grab a Diet Coke. (He was holding my place in line in his stroller.) When I returned, the lady grinned and told me that that's what he had told her. He gets it.

So all I'm saying is...sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. And if it's healthy, low-fat, calcium-filled string cheese that allows you to do it, that's pretty good, don't you think?


heide said...

haha! We got through a marathon Costco trip the other day with a new book. It's a Curious George flap book with more than 50 flaps. Lachlan was entertained for an hour.

BPKurtz said...

I've had this discussion before, technically a bribe is something you give somebody before they do the thing you want, right? And an incentive is something you give them after to reinforce their behavior. So hurray for incentives!