Our Hamleys Moment

OUr Hamleys Moment

I’m breaking a promise I made to my Dad about 10 years ago by writing this post – sorry Dad.

When I was a child I was ok at swimming. I didn’t mind it, I was fairly indifferent to swimming lessons but I went along to them and didn’t find it too difficult. My older brother had a different experience, he didn’t like swimming lessons – i’m not sure of the details but I think he was scared. Eventually, he overcame his fear and swimming lessons we not an issue. As a reward for his bravery my parents took him from Windsor into London and he got to choose a present in Hamleys. I think he chose subbuteo.

My keen sense of justice set alarm bells ringing. WHAT? HOW IS THIS FAIR? IT’S NOT FAIR!!!! I didn’t struggle with swimming and I didn’t get a reward. I can imagine that I went on and on about it quite a lot. In the end, a good 13 or 14 years later (I’m persistent!) my parents bought me a birthday present and before I opened it my Dad said that they were giving it to me on the promise that I would never, ever, mention subbuteo again! It was a pink ipod, back when ipods were way out of the budget of most parents for their children’s 16th birthday. I quickly agreed and very much enjoyed my present. I also promised to myself that I would never reward one child and not the other for overcoming adversity or doing something that they found especially difficult.

Like all things in parenting, when you put theory into practice, I found myself pursuing a train of thought yesterday that shocked me. Joni is almost three and is still not toilet trained. She has repeatedly told me she does not want to use the toilet, she is not interested. It is boring and feels irrelevant to her. So, my strategy so far has been talking about it, suggesting that she uses the toilet or the potty but allowing her to say no. I am taking her lead and will continue to do so. I do feel I have a responsibility to facilitate it all though and I began to wonder if a reward was the answer. In fact, in that moment I was so desperate I was imagining taking her to a big, fancy toy shop and promising her anything she wants if she would just use the flipping toilet. WOAH. Hold up. No. I promised I wouldn’t do this? I promised I wouldn’t use large scale bribery and reward to make my child do anything, especially as it is likely that Wilbur won’t have the same problem and would therefore not get the same reward. So, yet again, what I thought I would do differs greatly from what I am prepared to do in reality.

Is bribery/reward a parenting technique that you use? Do you think it could mean that you unfairly treat each child? I’d love to hear what you think, as i’m still reeling from the shock of the lengths I would consider going to, despite my own experiences!

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5 Responses to Our Hamleys Moment

  1. fritha says:

    oh gosh that’s so tricky! I’m not really a fan of reward charts and the like BUT I did realise a little while ago that Wilf’s teeth were looking plaquey and suddenly terrified he would have bad teeth decided to use his love of stickers as an incentive to let us help him brush his teeth. I think this springs from a fear from seeing my youngest brother and sister having tooth issues, my parents never bribed them with anything to do them (where I was actually scared into brushing my teeth for 3 minutes twice a day by my older brothers friend warning me he actually knew someone who’s teeth had fallen out). SO we used stickers and he was thrilled and let us brush his teeth and then a month or so later completely forgot about the stickers and just started being ok with teeth bruising..so it’s worked well for us but I never thought I would be a bribery/reward type of parent!

    p.s I love how persistent you where about the injustice! x

  2. chloebridge says:

    I have a lot to say on this subject. Firstly, I think different approaches work for different ages (and personalities) and at toddler age, rewards can work well as they can easily see the cause and effect instant results. With older children, it’s easier to get results with positive encouragement and talking to get to the route of the problem. Wilbur won’t remember that Joni was rewarded for potty training, Joni will likely not remember either.

    From my experiences as a child, I think we need to tread very carefully when rewarding school age children, and if we choose to go down a rewards approach for anything, then in this house the rewards MUST be fair between each child. My dad was pretty unsubtle about rewarding my little brother for achievements that weren’t even acknowledged for the rest of us, and to this day I still vividly remember the pure anger and resentment I felt at the injustice.

    It actually was the main reason me and my older brother would gang up and taunt my little brother mercilessly, for YEARS. We’ve since talked about it as adults, I remember the favouritism, he remembers the bullying – not the kind of thing I want to encourage with my own children!

    • chloebridge says:

      Forgot to mention that the reason my dad thought my bro needed extra rewards was because he had reading difficulties and rewards when he achieved good test results might encourage him to read more/work harder. But actually he has reading difficulties to this day, and the reward system just made him feel he was supposed to be doing better.

  3. Cherry was only potty trained last month, aged three years and three months! She was still a bit reluctant on the morning we did it and I nearly gave up but we kept asking her to sit on potty and she has only had three wee accidents since as she was really ready. I think the longer you wait the better. We did use rewards for the first couple of days and she got a little present for the first poo as she’d been holding it in for days but she was fine when we told her no more. I do use bribery and rewards at time because it makes my life a bit easier but I think I will always be aware of making sure they never feel like one is getting a better deal that the other, I can see how it can be easily done but it really would be annoying for the other siblings! x

  4. i agree with fritha, i don’t think you really have to buy a present or anything, but if there’s something they already have, that they enjoy, then perhaps encourage that more in return for potty training? i don’t have a child and obviously every child is their own person but i feel like that would have worked with the younger me!

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