Let’s be honest. Just about every parent utilizes the strategy of bribing their kids at one point or another. We might bribe them to behave in the store or perhaps to do something that needs to be done. 

Most of the time, the bribe is centered around some sort of behavior and then includes a reward when they meet the requirements. For example, maybe you offered your child a snack for being quiet and calm in the grocery store. 

While bribery and rewards can certainly be a good strategy that works at times, there are also times it simply doesn’t work. 

It’s time to learn how to make a reward actually work for you so you can put them to use when necessary. 

Understanding the Request

We must understand that while we know exactly what we’re asking of the child, it may be too big or too challenging of a request for them to live up to. They might not really even truly understand what it is you are requesting. 

Here’s the thing, that behavior you are trying to break has quite possibly become their normal routine, and they might just be having a hard time breaking out of the pattern. We see this often with bedtimes. 

Does your child ask to potty or ask for water at least ten times at bedtime? Maybe you’ve tried to bribe them and it just doesn’t phase them. Break down the request into smaller steps rather than expecting them just to stop completely. 

Try this one – set a timer and give your child the goal to fall asleep before the timer goes off. Or maybe prepare your child that once they are tucked in, they are not allowed to get up and ask for water. These small changes will lead to bigger changes to accomplish your request and you can reward them for the small completions. 

Your Bribe Isn’t Good Enough

We hate to break it to you, but maybe your bribe isn’t working because whatever your child is getting otherwise seems better to them. Let’s refer back to getting out of bed at night. When they crawl into your bed, they get snuggles from you so why would they want to stop?

To get them to stop coming to your bed because they enjoy your cuddles, you will have to convey that coming to your bed is no longer allowed. Your bribe must be stronger than the habit, so don’t expect the bribe to work if they know they will be allowed to come in for those cuddles anyways. 

Hold Your Ground

Finally, you can’t just give in and give your child a reward when they didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. We know they just look at you with those sad eyes and you break but you have to hold your ground. 

If you set a reward and the child doesn’t follow through, don’t reward them. Remind them that they have to do their side to earn the reward. Let them down easily and make sure they understand. 

If you feel guilty about it, you can reward them with something different to lift their spirits but not right away. Stop sending mixed signals and you just might get results. 


If you’re tired of your bribes and promise of rewards not getting results, consider the approach. Look at these tips and determine whether you can adjust something to get through to your little one and perhaps make a change. 

While rewards are not always the solution, they can certainly be helpful in some cases. Don’t give up just yet! Good night! 

Sleep Coach in Singapore

Louise founder of Petite Dreamers understands the challenges with helping your child sleep through the night. She also understands each child has their own personality and may need a different approach. Contact Louise today for a free 15-minute consultation. You will love her personalized and caring approach to your situation.