Well I guess prior to having kids I used to look at other moms begging, pleading, promising crazy things to their kids and think "that's not going to be me! I'm not going to bribe my kids to do something, I'll just get them to do it". I'm not sure I've ever been more wrong about something in my life! I use bribery all the time - and it really works!
When I picked Gabby up from school, I reminded her that Mondays are swimming lesson day.
Instant tears. "I don't like to swim. I want my life preserver. I don't like going underwater." The tears turned to a tantrum. As I'm putting on her bathing suit, I'm gently trying to explain the virtues of knowing how to swim. I now know where the expression "falling on deaf ears" came from. Gabriella's trepidation was making my silly little subconscious consider bringing her life preserver. What are you crazy Melissa? I reconsidered. And brought out the big guns - bribing her!
I had used the bribery bag last week. It worked well. I filled a bag with some small treats - candy, halloween items like black bats, spiders, glow in the dark bats, lip gloss, eye shadow, pet shops toys, an elephant, a small dinosaur, you get the idea. All of Gabby's favorites.
I presented it to her like this: "After you finish your swimming lesson, you will get to pick something from this bag!" She was immediately excited, wanted to see all the options. She happily walked into swimming. Then, right at the door to the pool, she had a momentary relapse - I walked her to her swim instructor. She had one bout with tears the first time she went under water. Then she did great. I mean fabulous. She was underwater non stop - a huge step forward.
I really feel like today was the turning point for Gabs! I remember with Isabella - Grandma Caroline would take her to swimming lessons around the same age. She hated it! She even reminisced about it tonight - how much she disliked it. But you know what, after a few tries, she eased into it and now LOVES swimming and swimming lessons. (that's Gabby and her instructor, notice Isabella at the top of the picture with her yellow bathing suit on - she gets to encourage her sister from the next lane! She does a great job!)
Gabby was so proud of herself getting out of the pool. She was so excited that she enjoyed the lesson. (By the way, her teacher has the patience of a saint, she is unbelievable!) As I wrapped the towel around her she told me how much she LOVED swimming lessons. Wow, what an about face from just 30 minutes earlier!
And then she said she wanted to pick the glow in the dark bats as her prize.
I think I'll keep the bribery bag in the car for a few more weeks of swimming lessons or for whatever other obstacle comes our way! You never know when you might need it!