Otherwise known as the poster boy for Bribe and Threaten Parenting.
Many years ago, I was in a car with Cousin Unabitch and her young daughter, we'll call her Eee. Eee was misbehaving in some mild form, and though my cousin was addressing the issue in a bland passive way, I thought I could jump in and improve the situation for her, since she wasn't really getting to the point, of which Eee needed to shut up. So I jumped in and made a comment to Eee to the effect of "if you quit being a pain in the ass, I will do something nice for you". To which my cousin whipped her head around and stated "no no no, we don't bribe her to be good. We want her to be good because she wants to".
Well knock me over with a diaper genie. I mean, if you are not bribing and not threatening,( and she certainly was not spanking), what is it exactly that you are doing? What does that leave??? Now, Eee was and still is a shy and naturally quiet and calm child. She had about as much motivation to misbehave as a fly does to skip over a juicy turd. It is just nature. How they are made. A person never knows what goes on behind closed doors of course, but from where I was sitting, it looked to me like Cousin Unabitch was just re-packaging bribery into a prettier picture. Eee was about 4 or 5 at the time and now that I have all this personal experience I can say for sure, kids don't behave because they want to do it. Take out all the obvious bribery tools like money, candy, stickers, toys etc. Then remove all the overt threats such as physical pain, favored things taken away, confinement etc. What do they want? They want to connect. They want you. When you praise a child for doing well, you are using your praise as a positive way to prompt the child to do it again. There is an effect that if the child does not do what you want, you will not praise them. You will remove yourself emotionally if they do not behave. You can call it love based, or positive parenting or whatever you want to call it. If you ask me, that is still bribing or threatening, it just looks and sounds much nicer.
Embrace it, own it, call it like it is!
And if you want to ask me again, lemme tell you, nothing symbolizes Bribe and Threaten Parenting like Santa! The whole gambit is one enormous bribe followed up by an even larger threat. What's worse, is the entire (Christmas celebrating) world is in on it. There are reminders in song, and on TV. In school, in people's yards and everywhere else you go there is Santa, watching you. He see's you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good blah blah blah.
So Genea, she is a rather rigid little girl and that serves her well in a lot of ways. When it comes to Santa she accepts Santa is out there and therefore accepts the entire package. Flying reindeer, fat guy in the chimney, elves. Teena, she is more of a questioner kind of kid. I have been getting on both of them lately for their heavy duty extreme whining and today Teena wanted to know, "if Santa can see us does that mean he can hear us too"? When I told her yes, OF COURSE HE CAN, she looked at me squinty eyed for a second and said, "nooooooo, how could he?" Listen Teena, your mother would not lie to you!
The past few weeks we have been laying it on thick. Calmly asking the girls, what do you think Santa will say? Do you think Santa will be happy with you right now? So once a year I outsource responsibility to a third party in the North Pole, loaded with gifts and happiness. I have been known to reach for the phone and pretend to start dialing, since I have a very special circumstance here and so I have Santa's home phone number. Gonna' turn them in myself.
Reminder: tomorrow is Too True Tuesday. What are you buying yourself for Christmas?