Monday, May 26, 2008


Children are known for being naive. They are innocent and don't yet know that people can be cruel and trick them into things or tell them lies and raise their expectations to the impossible. The question is, as an adult is it fair to trick kids into believing things because of their naivety. This brings up the question of empty threats and bribery.

Even as adults is it fair to trick other adults into believing things that are just made up. Shouldn't there be a disclaimer in fine print to say that it is fake and a joke. People could believe things all their lives and then one day someone breaks the news to them that it is made up and their whole world crashes on them. Everything they believed in they find out is nothing.

Sometimes it can be hard to explain to a child a difficult concept like death and parents may lie to their children and say the pet went to sleep so as not to have to get the child upset. The child grows up and realizes that the pet had died and not gone to sleep. Even a question like "Where does a baby come from". There's no reason to have to make things up and say it gets delivered in the mailbox or you buy it at the hospital. Every child at their own level can understand some concept. You don't have to explain the whole thing, but on their level. For a young child less information is needed, while for an older more mature child more information is acceptable.

Now with the question of empty threats. Empty threats are usually used when a parent is desperate and their child isn't listening to them. If the child doesn't want to go to school in the morning, the parent will say the child won't get to play with his friends, or the parent will take away a toy of theirs, or any such thing. First of all, I don't think threats are a good way to convince a child to do something. One, it just gets the child more upset and angry at the parent. Two, if you don't follow through with the threat then the child knows you won't really keep to the threat and they won't listen anyways. Plus, is it really fair to put the child through so much aggravation of worrying about not getting what they want and then at the end they get it.

Then with the question of bribery, should a parent be allowed to promise their child a prize for doing something the parent wants them to do. If its a chart then that's one thing, that's not bribery, that's a reward system that is set up in advance that the child knows how it works. I think charts are a great idea, the child has something to look forward to and sees how their progressing. However, if its a spur of the moment bribe then its playing with the child's trust in the parent. A child is taking too long doing homework so the parent says if you finish your homework right away you'll get to stay up and watch a video. The parent knows they don't let their kids watch video's on a school night, so they have no plan on keeping to their promise. They just use the bribe to get the kid to do what they want. Now it comes bedtime and the child expects to watch a video but the mother says its too late now and then a whole argument erupts between parent and child. "But you promised" the child tells the mother, and the mother puts on an indifferent face and walks out, while the child cries itself to sleep and then won't be so fast in trusting the mother again. Or if the child does continue falling for the bribery then it just becomes worse.


  1. I agree. I couldn't have said it better myself. People must always be consistent.

  2. I see so many parents giving empty threats...and then they wonder why their kids don't listen.

  3. Also giving to much and never saying no is a problem


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