Your toddler doesn’t understand the value of a dollar, so when children are really young, you have to learn other ways to incentivize them to behave. But, once children reach an age when money has some value to them—say, when they can use it to buy candy from their school’s campus store, or when they can buy their friend’s cookies off of them—it’s tempting to take advantage of that. You, as a parent, have the dollars to hand out (keeping in mind that, to a child, $5 is a huge deal). And sometimes, you’d love to just throw money at the problem. Temper tantrums, rude behavior, homework neglect, being thrown in detention—these are all issues to which you’d love to say, “If I gave you $10, would you be better?” But using money to reward and punish kids is a tricky thing. You don’t want to set up unrealistic expectations, or ultimately make things harder on yourself. Here are guidelines for using money to punish and reward kids.
“If you stop screaming, you get $5”
Your child is being a top of the line gremlin in the grocery store—screaming and throwing a tantrum while you pick out produce and wait in line to check out. You want so badly to offer him $5 to just behave.