Is it ok to bribe a kid to practice?

Is it smart to bribe my 5-year-old with video game time in return for practicing the guitar (or doing other stuff)? I don’t actually care if he plays a lot of games, but it seems like a fiendishly smart strategy to limit his time in order to use it as a bargaining chip for chores and learning stuff (like guitar, which he asked to learn) that takes work.

Is that terrible?!

Did your musical kid actually always want to practice, or did you make him practice because you knew he did want it but needed help doing the work?

Is there a way to leverage their love for video games in a way that isn’t going to screw them up?!

2 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    I bribed my older son every single time he practiced violin for the three years. Bribery became so expensive that I started buying used toys in bulk on eBay. I saved only one recording of the early lessons, and in it, the teacher asks him to do something, he does it, and then says, “Can I have a toy?”

    He’s still playing at age 15, by choice, so I vote yes for bribery when kids are young. Practicing is very very hard. I don’t know any kid playing at a high level who got there without a lot of parental pushing at early stages.

    My son who plays cello would pick up his cello and play on his own from an early age, but practicing *well* is very hard and he did not do that on his own.

    He practices cello four hours a day now – at age 13. Well, he *says* that’s what he wants to do, but I’m on top of him the whole time or he wouldn’t get it done. And if I thought bribery would work, I’d do it, but all he wants is to be a soloist, and I can’t buy that on eBay.

    Even the most accomplished musicians have a reward for practice: performance.

    In a way we all bribe ourselves to do what we need to do. Maybe we call it a reward, but it’s the same thing. I let myself buy something on Etsy after I get a blog post written. Some people have a sauna after a hard workout. Men get better sex if they do foreplay.


  2. Debby
    Debby says:

    You only become better when you are already good in something.
    There are research that indicated that passion is overrated.
    Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable. By “bribing” , you are technically replacing one habit to another habit (the habit of not doing chores to the reward stimulus of playing video games of which the mind places equal pleasure), until supposedly to the point that after your son becomes proficient in the chore that he will find it enjoyable in the endeavour.

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