The Art of the Bribe.

Bribery. Good parents would NEVER bribe their children, right?

Who can say? There is no way to contact these Bribery-Free Good Parents. They are all very busy explaining to Toddlers why the Good Parents need at least one hand and a small amount of quiet in order to make a phone call oh never mind the office closed hours ago.

Child Bribery is the reason banks have lollipops. Without lollipops, banks are basically the most boring place on earth. WITH lollipops, banks are a super fun treat.

Child Bribery is the reason that popsicles EXIST. I make popsicles so I can say, ‘hey, do you want a popsicle’ and Babystar will say ‘obviously’ and I have about four minutes to load the dishwasher or change my tampon unassisted or make a dentist appointment.

I don’t know what I will offer when she starts refusing popsicles. Twenty dollar bills?

Whatever works, y’all.

But here’s the thing. Or, at least, here is the thing that I tell myself but is probably not true at all because Toddlers are wily af. Babystar has no clue that she is being bribed. She just thinks mommy is really nice and sometimes gives her popsicles along with a little personal space to eat them and drip them on the floor if that is her choice.

Boom. Mom of the year.

We have spent the last six years a few weeks this summer at various stores shopping for the Teenager’s dorm furnishings. (In case you don’t know, The Teenager likes everything to be just so. Dorm shopping involved a lot of Pinning and Browsing and comparison shopping and returning things and buying other things and returning THOSE things and buying other things.)

Babystar loves her sister and she loves going bye-bye (mostly) but everyone has limits. And of course she wants to touch everything in Home Goods and RUN SO FAST through Target’s aisles because duh. She is also learning sequences, and she responds really well to ‘first this, then this’. I can say first we change your diaper, then we go to the park. Or first lunch, then diaper, then park. So I always made the third thing fun. First we return sheets at Target, then we buy hangers at Home Goods, then we go to the splash park. First we get dorm snacks at Trader Joe’s, then we buy storage bins at Target, then we have a picnic with the airplanes. First Ikea, then Target (ALWAYS Target), then we can pick out a toy at Home Goods (while the Teenager decides on the absolutely perfect throw pillow).

Home Goods has the BEST toys, y’all. They almost always have discounted Melissa & Doug toys. And Green Toys. And books. There is only one small Toy Aisle so Babystar’s choices are limited (good) but the inventory is constantly changing so it is a new toy store every time (better). I am a huge fan.

During my three desperate ‘you can pick any toy’ days, I was pretty willing to buy whichever toy she chose. The most expensive thing there is usually still under thirty bucks.

The first Toy Bribe Day, Babystar chose Green Toys Sports Boats. There were two on the shelf; one was blue and one was orange. And they both had cool Duck Captains. Babystar could not choose a color, so I bought both. They were $5.99 each, and they are normally $11.99, so one was basically free, right? Isn’t that how math works? (I know. Shhh.) She loves them and plays with them every night during her bath.


The next Toy Bribe Day, Babystar chose a Melissa & Doug felt food sandwich set ($12.99). It is pretty sweet. Pretend food is apparently ALL THE RAGE in Babystar’s world right now. (I eat fake corn and take bites of fake ketchup several times a day.) So it is really strange to me that she has not even asked about the sandwich set since we brought it home. It is sitting in the top of her closet waiting for a rainy day (proverbial or actual) or perhaps Christmas.


The last Toy Bribe Day of the Dorm Shopping Extravaganza, Babystar chose a small pack of wooden blocks ($3.00). These blocks were on CLEARANCE at Home Goods. Home Goods prices are already basically clearance prices. I was very excited about the wooden blocks. I was mostly excited about the fact that they only cost three dollars.

wooden blocks

The blocks are meant to be a little town or something but Babystar loves to build a TOWER SO TALL TO THE SKY so she plays with them a bit different than intended. (Whatever; her blocks, her tower, her life.)

block tower

And oh yeah, we all got pedicures before taking the Teenager to college. Babystar’s blue toes cost $10.


MAYDAY MAYDAY: Do you use Child Bribery to make your life easier? What form? Does it work? (I’m clearly soliciting new plans, if you couldn’t tell.)



29 thoughts on “The Art of the Bribe.

  1. I love this!!!! Yes, HG toys are awesome!! I’ve actually gone there to buy bday presents for other kids just bc they a) are cheaper and b) have unique toys you don’t see everywhere.

    I had my 18mo stand 6″ from my knees this morning and say, “SEE! SEE!” when I was changing my tampon. I was like, “NO, you don’t want to see this. Give mommy some space … right now.” Omg, I should’ve given her a damn popsicle.

    I bribe them quite frequently – whenever distraction doesn’t work, bribery is my go-to. But I try to use it only when necessary … because I fear they day they catch on and won’t go for it! I bribe them with watching Let it Go on YouTube or stickers … small things! I pretty much don’t ever buy them stuff when we are out and about. I’m afraid that will escalate too quickly!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg hahaha see see.
      I get ‘what is it mommy’. About everything. EVERYTHING.
      I hear you about the brides out and about. Dorm shopping called for extreme measures. I tried really hard to be smarter than the toddler monster by including ‘pick out a toy’ as one item on the list of 1 million errands. But near the end so she would like hang in there for all of the others. πŸ™ƒπŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I bribe my kids all the time. No shame in my game. And I also LOVE Homegoods. I pretty much only buy toys and books from there. My life would be empty without Homegoods. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Changing tampons alone is definitely worth a bribe. Here’s my tip: make the bribe something you already have or already were going to give her. Snack time? Popsicle! Small stash of dollar store type things in the glove compartment. Or things you don’t need to buy, like the picnic at the playground, or a trip to the library. At her age, the fun is in the picking out of things, and like you noticed, she might forget about them and then it’s a Christmas present. The sequence of events thing is perfect and has worked well for me too. Sometimes I do an activity with him so that then he can continue it while I do other things, like we made a marble run on the wall with tp rolls and painters tape.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Have you checked out screen free parenting? They have ideas on different things to keep in different areas of the house, like under the bathroom sink for while you shower. Oh and busy bags for car rides and trips out. I need to get mine back in the car post road trip.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Those are good finds! Our bribery is always a negotiation about a situation. Would you rather do this or this? I make him choose between something of my choosing. So, it looks like it’s his idea. Don’t make him read this when he grows up. LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahaha yeah, I love that move too.
      Do you want to wear your pink shoes or your sparkle shoes?
      Do you want to get dressed on the changing table or in your teepee?
      Do you want to walk to th car or do you want me to carry you.
      The end result is the same but she hasn’t noticed yet.


  5. I’m not sure if I bribe as much as I beg. Please stop that, please be good, please don’t touch your sibling. I may not be as broke but I could be hoarse from all the begging and of course I lack the proof that any of it works.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Totally with ya on doing what you have to! Sometimes you need those minutes to get stuff done! Also, the bank part made me laugh! I used to LOVE going bc of the lollipopsπŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Me! Me! Me!!!! I will take blame for being a “bad parent” LOL We try not to bribe but sometimes, I dont think it is necessarily a bad thing. We bribed him to potty train and it is totally working #parentingwin

    Liked by 1 person

  8. hahahaha my son is only 10 months and I already have to coax him with some kind of toy to do certain things. I wish we had a Home Goods here. Maybe I can check out their site


  9. Gotta love bribery! My toddler is so freaking picky that our doctor suggested we try bribing her to try new foods. (Otherwise, she’s referring her to occupational therapy to discuss sensory processing disorder.) So we’re trying, but even the best bribes — her favorite popsicles — don’t get us much more than a lick of a bite of food!


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