Using threats and bribes for motivation

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Using threats and bribes for motivation

I think all parents, at some point or another, use bribes or threats to get our kids to do what they want. If you do X, then you will get Y. Or the reverse; if you don't do this right now, you won't get this. I'll take that away from you. We do it, because it works. In the short-term, there is no faster way to get a kid to hop off the couch and walk the dog, than to offer a reward in return. But it's really important for parents to remember; it may work in the short-term, but it always backfires in the long term. What we want is for kids to access their own natural intrinisic motivation to get things done, and not to rely on external things like, like our bribes or motivators. When they rely on those external forces, they forget who they are and what they want in the world. They often have trouble, when we're not around, to dangle the carrot or crack the whip. Later in life, it is a really important skill for kids to know how to motivate themselves.

Watch Video: Using threats and bribes for motivation by Christine Carter, PhD, ...


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Christine Carter, PhD

Sociologist & Happiness Expert

A sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, Christine Carter, PhD is the author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents. Dr. Carter also writes an award-winning blog for Greater Good, which is syndicated on the Huffington Post and Carter has helped thousands of parents find more joy in their parenting while raising happy, successful and resilient kids. Known for her parenting and relationship advice, Carter draws on psychology, sociology, neuroscience, and uses her own chaotic and often hilarious real-world adventures to demonstrate the do’s and don’ts in action.

After receiving her B.A. from Dartmouth College, where she was a Senior Fellow, Dr. Carter worked in marketing management and school administration, going on to receive her PhD. in sociology from UC Berkeley. Dr. Carter has been quoted in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle and dozens of other publications. She has appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” the “TODAY” show, the “Rachael Ray Morning Show,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” and NPR.

Carter has been a keynote speaker at hundreds of events and professional groups. In 2010, she received an award from the Council on Contemporary Families for her outstanding science-based reporting on family issues. In 2011 she won Red Tricycle’s award for the “Most Awesome Parent Education,” and so far in 2012 she has been nominated for a Bammy Award and for an award from the American Sociological Association for public sociology.

Dr. Carter teaches parenting classes online throughout the year to a global audience on She lives with her family in Berkeley, CA.

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