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Old 09-26-2011, 07:56 AM   #1
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"Bribing" for affection - too sensitive, or just let it go?

It really bugs me when people try to "bribe" kids for affection. I think it has the risk of setting kids up to be more vulnerable to abuse/exploitation, and I just don't like it. On the other hand, I have family member who think it's perfectly normal and acceptable, and that it's rude for a child to refuse to hug or kiss family or close friends. I don't know whether to just let it go, or to say something. Mind you, I don't for a minute think the people that do this with DS now would ever, ever do anything to hurt him, I just have concerns about teaching a toddler that adults can expect him to give or receive hugs, kisses, etc. if he doesn't want to.

For example, DS wants DH to do something with him. DH says, "Give me a kiss first!" With DH, it doesn't bother me so much, because if DS flat out refuses, he'll drop it (and DS almost never refuses).

But MIL will say things like "Come sit on my lap" or "Give me a kiss!" If DS refuses, she'll tell him, "Then I'm not going to play with you!" DS usually cooperates quickly. But the other day, he refused flat out, and she kept it up. I didn't say anything, because I didn't want to make a fuss - actually, I was turning around to tell DS, "If she won't play with you, I will!" but another toy caught his attention, and he took off to play with it. But I thought, what kind of ridiculous, immature, manipulative behavior is that? I wouldn't let my children pull that kind of "Do what I want, or I won't play with you" crap with their friends, so should I seriously allow an adult to do that to my kids?
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Old 09-26-2011, 08:18 AM   #2
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Re: "Bribing" for affection - too sensitive, or just let it go?

I agree with your opinion on the matter. It seems like the adults are acting like the child. It would seem to make more sense for your child to exercise control over his own developing emotions rather than have authority figures manipulate him and undermine his sense of self. I see it as well, and it usually comes from adults who don't understand the various stages a child's mind goes through in development and instead they place their adult desire/need on the child.
I'm very outspoken, so i'd be inclined to take the adult aside and explain how things work, and how they need to understand your child as an individual, and not project their needs or place conditions on their affection towards him.
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Old 09-26-2011, 08:28 AM   #3
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Re: "Bribing" for affection - too sensitive, or just let it go?

I hate that. A bit different I actually just saw a post on a FB page for some youth in my church who are going to a function and the woman says, "so what are you all going to wear? I think it should be nice pants and matching polos. This will look good and will make the adults happy" WTHeck? I know it's not bribing, but doing something like that to "make the adults happy"? I find stuff like that manipulative. I never tell the kids to "make mama proud" or whatever.
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Old 09-26-2011, 08:48 AM   #4
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Re: "Bribing" for affection - too sensitive, or just let it go?

Hm. I'm on the fence. On the one hand, I think a case could be made that your MIL feels hurt when your child does not want to be affectionate, and thus does not want to play anymore. I understand that you might feel what you are seeing is too directly "transactional", but you know, one catches more flies with honey and all that... What looks to you like a "bribe" might look to her like a life lesson that treating people sweetly will more likely end with positive results.

On the other hand, if your MIL won't let it go, that is annoying. She needs to give your son some space. I actually don't think your response of "well then I will play with you" is a bad one, if it comes up again. Maybe you can pay your MIL back in a life lesson that what comes naturally is better than what is pressured.
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Old 09-26-2011, 09:35 AM   #5
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Re: "Bribing" for affection - too sensitive, or just let it go?

I'm on the "Let it Go" side. There are so many bigger battles to fight, IMO, and this one isn't worth it.

You aren't going to change her mind, and you'll most likely just come off as controlling and difficult, IMO. She'll see kiddos reaction enough times that eventually, she'll get over it.

I do, however, think kids need to be taught social graces. Giving grandma a kiss is a social grace for a 3 year old. So not doing it is the same to me as disobeying. I put my kids in time out for that.
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Old 09-26-2011, 10:35 AM   #6
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Re: "Bribing" for affection - too sensitive, or just let it go?

Another thing to consider...if you allow manipulative behavior to be done to your child, they well likely learn to use it in their favor as they get older.
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Old 09-26-2011, 10:39 AM   #7
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Re: "Bribing" for affection - too sensitive, or just let it go?

The situation with you dh wouldn't bother me. I do that to my own kids, just playing with them. But your MIL saying she wouldn't play with him if he didn't do what she wanted was just mean.
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Old 09-26-2011, 10:39 AM   #8
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Re: "Bribing" for affection - too sensitive, or just let it go?

I agree with you but we feel that way about most things (i.e. toys, food, and even behavior).
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Old 09-26-2011, 10:48 AM   #9
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Re: "Bribing" for affection - too sensitive, or just let it go?

My family does this stuff and since my DS is so little it hasn't started with him but I will not be allowing it to go on. I am overall seen as difficult when it comes to my son but I don't care I don't want him to learn to manipulate others any more than I want him to be manipulated into doing what others want.
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Old 09-26-2011, 10:54 AM   #10
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Re: "Bribing" for affection - too sensitive, or just let it go?

I don't believe in forcing kids to show physical affection. I know I would not like to be FORCED to hug/kiss someone. How can we possibly teach kids their bodies are their own if we also force close physical contact?
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