From Gareth Cook, here are some tips for how to make the bribes work and avoid the undermining of intrinsic motivation:
Based on what is now known, Pierce and others suggest a set of guiding principles.
Choose a specific, positive behavior. “Have at least three bites of a vegetable every dinner for a week.’’ (Good.) “Don’t annoy me.’’ (Not good.)
Choose smart rewards. Work with your kid to choose the prize, investing them and ensuring it’s one they truly desire. A few selections from the LEGO catalogue were all it took me to solve an Olympian parenting problem: thumb sucking. But a reward need not be large.
Stay positive. In our house, we call them “challenges.’’ It is not about “fixing’’ a negative. Don’t nag. Let it be their choice. Pile on the praise.
Small steps first. Faced with an overwhelming task, start with easy goals, and small rewards, and slowly build. So, you might start with “avoid thumb one day between breakfast and nap.’’ Consider a detailed progress chart.
Those are largely good ideas, whether or not you are bribing your kids.