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July 9, 2013

Cash is King

by Tracy Jensen

I read a lot of parenting articles. So many of them are centered on the idea of getting kids to “do stuff.” Good stuff, mind you. How to motivate your kids to eat right/go to bed/be responsible/get active — these seem to be themes of many columns and blogs.

Obviously this is a major issue for parents, and everyone has an opinion or technique to suggest. Take Heidi Klum. In a recent interview she explained how some of her kids just don’t like to eat fresh fruits and veggies. So she reportedly pays them to do it.

The connection has some merit: If you make the right choices, you get a reward. But is a monetary reward a realistic expectation for kids learning a basic life skill? I often struggle with this myself when it comes to my child and chores. I don’t pay her to clean the bathroom. This is her job around the house, and I hope to teach her that when she is grown, no one will pay her to clean up after herself. Well, at least I am still waiting for the housekeeping fairy to leave money under the pillow when I am done, but to date, it hasn’t happened. But it does feel good to see a clean house.

Eating well, though, doesn’t have the same type of instant, visible gratification, which kids may need to understand that there is a benefit to their good action. The benefits of healthy food (or on the flip side, the negative outcomes of eating unhealthy food) take time to see. So what do you think? Is it a good idea to bribe your kids to eat well?

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