Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Is a Goldfish Considered Bribery?

Yesterday at the gym, they had a table set up doing dental screenings for children.  My girls were quite excited to get brand-spanking new toothbrushes.  They act like they never get a new toothbrush!  I digress... As I was talking to the woman who set up the table, I noticed a stuffed Nemo as part of her display.  I laughed and as I recounted the goldfish story to her, I realized that I hadn't shared it on my blog yet.

Oh, where to start?
How about before Christmas.  Yup.  That's a good place to start.

Miss M wasn't even 6 yet and Miss K had just turned 4.  Our family dentist said that children can't brush their teeth effectively until they are much, much older.  So what I do is let the girls brush first then I follow up with my more thorough approach.

Brushing our teeth has always been a natural part of our bedtime routine.  But for some odd reason, probably chaotic schedules, morning brushing hasn't exactly been a priority.  Yeah, that's my fault but when I'm busy and running around trying to get Miss M ready for school while juggling getting myself and Miss K ready for the gym, I tend to get a bit flustered.  As many times as I would ask them to go brush their teeth by themselves in the morning, they seldom would.  "Tsk, tsk, Nicole.  They're only 5 and 4 - what on earth would compel you to believe they would do it on their own?"

In the meantime, someone besides me decided that the girls needed goldfish.  Probably because every time we went to WalMart they wanted to go look at all the fish.  Didn't matter what they saw in the tank, they always got excited.

Add another thing to my to-do list, but okay... if it will make them happy then I'm game.

Then came Christmas.  DH and I purchased matching beginner bowl sets for the girls.  They were cute and even came with rocks and a plant.  When we returned from Christmas out of town, the girls were allowed to go to WalMart and pick one goldfish each.  The were delighted. 
When we got home, DH set a few rules. 
One - the girls need to help clean the tanks once a week.  (He's been the parent in charge of cleaning every time except a few so hooray for DH!) 
Two - the fish cannot be fed until the beds are made and the teeth are brushed. 

The girls agreed without any complaint.  No longer do I need to beg them or remind them to brush their teeth in the morning... they usually remind ME!  Sometimes on weekends, I have to ask them if they've made their beds yet and brushed their teeth because "Your fish is waiting for breakfast."  That's not bad considering I don't usually have to remind them during the week.

Here we are in March and the fish are still alive. 

Basically, it cost us 40 cents to get the kids in the habit of brushing their teeth twice a day.  And the fact that they make their beds in the morning as part of the deal is just a bonus.

Have you bribed your kids lately?


  • Tara

    I am sure I have bribed my kids lately, probably more than a few times. I use Santa a lot. It works. I fear the inevitable, but for now I will just enjoy it.

    I admit I let my 4 year old do her own teeth in the morning and I do them at night.

  • Anonymous

    Hey, you've gotta do what you've gotta do. I bribe my kid with dessert to finish dinner and once offered candy if he sang happy bday to my sister.