Parenting 101: Bribery, Negotiation and (sometimes) Threats

by Samantha on February 17, 2011

They don’t tell you the truth. It’s a carefully kept secret that those in the parenting club keep under wraps until you too are bestowed the title of “mom” or “dad.”
Shrouded in mystery, this key to success and relative calm as a parent is rarely shared with those who have not yet crossed over into the world where chaos is the norm, and calm (or relative quiet) is the perennial but not always achievable goal.
The holy grail of parenting - that which allows those of us who are in the trenches to experience some semblance of peace, is a simple formula of activity which I guarantee will buy you the calm that you more than likely desire. This key to parenting success, I can assure you, is commonly used with great effect by those in the know.
So what is the secret, the one that will free you from the never-ending fear that you are doing it wrong and ruining someone’s life forever?
It is what I call “The BNT Strategy:” Bribery, Negotiation and (sometimes) Threats. These are working pinnacles of most parents’ tools of the trade, whether they admit it or not. 
With my tongue firmly planted in cheek I shall state that there is an old saying about many truths often being found in jest. So while I reveal to the world my apparent lack of qualified parenting skills to those who may fail to see the humour in this post (or those who are probably just better at getting their kids to do what they should do, when they should do it), I do so with the humble hope that:
1)There are others out there who have on more than one occasion said to their children that they would not get “x” if they didn’t do “y;” and;
2) Some of you reading will realize that you are not the only one who has bribed your children with treats and TV in order to get some well-needed down time, even if it was just a few minutes
3)You or someone you know has had a serious, heart-to-heart give-and-take negotiation session that involved one party whose age group was in the double-digits and the other whose age was under 10.
A large part of being a parent includes bribery, negotiation and threats. It’s an ugly truth, but true nonetheless.
We would all agree that most experts would balk at the thought of the terms “bribery” and “threats” being used in the same sentence as “children” or “parenting” for that matter. That said, I think it’s safe to say that these tactics are used more commonly than not, due to the fact that parents are exasperated, irritable and just plain exhausted. I might clarify here for the sake of complete transparency that I use the word “threat” in the most simplistic and general of terms. By no means is this post advocating the delivery of harm (real or perceived) to children. 
On that note, my thought is that these three methods of exacting peace amongst the family ranks is more common than not. I’d love to hear your thoughts:
Do you ever use bribery, negotiation or threats in order to get your children to behave?
If you don’t have children, how do you feel about parents who use these tactics on their kids?
I’m curious to hear your views.
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