Just How Bad Is It to Bribe Your Kids With Money?

Paying your kids to do what you want often works, but some say it can lead to problems down the road.

Have you ever been so at the end of your rope that you’ve paid your kid $5 to just go to bed? How about promising a dollar for every A they bring home on their report card? We’re not talking allowance, we’re talking paying kids to achieve or well, to just stop being annoying.

Developmental experts generally agree bribing kids with cash sends a bad message, according to a recent piece in The New York Times. Pay your kids to work hard or do something they don’t want to -- but then how do they learn the internal drive necessary to succeed in life later when Mommy and Daddy are no longer shelling out? Also, some say the promise of a monetary reward for good grades can amp up pressure, and actually make kids feel like they have less control.

But here’s the part parents who’ve done it will like: Studies (and probably your own experience) tells you it works like a charm a lot of the time. Also, few long-term studies have been done, so all that hand-wringing about the long-term effects might be premature. And is paying your kid to buckle down on homework really so different than paying them to make their bed and unload the dishwasher?

The jury’s still on the long-term effect of this short-term behavior fix, but we’re wondering: Do you bribe your kids? For what kinds of behaviors do you pay up?

Mom of two Sasha Emmons is a writer and editor. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

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