KIERAN HOWARD: Bribery is fine '“ as long as it keeps the children quiet

As a parent, bribery is a wonderful thing.

Monday, 18th September 2017, 5:01 pm
Louie's barber employs a three-pronged bribery approach to getting him to sit still long enough to cut his hair     (Shutterstock)
Louie's barber employs a three-pronged bribery approach to getting him to sit still long enough to cut his hair (Shutterstock)

I swore I’d never resort to it before I be came a dad.

Sadly, that pledge lasted only a matter of weeks.

Ask any parent and they’ll tell you it’s an essential tool in keeping your child compliant on those particularly challenging ventures out.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

There’s some so-called experts who will argue it’s the wrong approach though.

They’ll say we’re making a rod for our own backs and not properly dealing with a situation.

I guess they are the professionals too, so they may well be right.

But, you try telling that to a mum or dad whose toddler is doing their level best to wake the dead with a 120-decibel tantrum on the floor in aisle three at Asda.

The promise of a reward of some description, if they start behaving, is a pretty quick fix to that predicament.

Who can really blame them?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a strategy I overuse, but it is a method I find extremely powerful when called upon.

It’s not just Kerrie and I who use that tactic with Louie either.

Other folk he comes into contact with have also demonstrated the benefits of some minor bribery.

Nowhere have I seen this more so than when we take him to the hairdressers.

He had his fourth trim last week.

It was long overdue, to be honest.

I know his hair needs chopping when people start commenting on what a beautiful girl we have.

Kerrie says we need to purchase him a T-shirt with ‘I’m a boy, actually’ written on it.

Anyway, his barber employs a three-pronged bribery approach to cutting his hair.

First of all, he’s allowed to sit in a raised toy car rather than an ordinary seat.

The turning steering wheel keeps his focus for, ooh,at least two minutes.

Then there’s the television showing cartoons and films and the chance to hold one of the combs.

That captivates him for about another three minutes.

Finally, there’s the endless supply of biscuits which help ensure he remains relatively still for the duration of the cut.

The food works a treat with Louie.

He’ll barely move all the while he has a Rich Tea in his tiny little hand.

He’s much like me in that respect.

It’s just as well all that does the job really, because we do consider it imperative that he leave with the same number of ears he went in with.


It seems I’ll be relying heavily on Google when Louie starts speaking.

More and more parents are turning to the search engine to answer their children’s baffling questions.

A poll of 2,000 parents found that 54 per cent were often stumped by the obscure questions posed by their little ones.

Some of the things they ask include, ‘How does the internet work?’, ‘Why do people die?’, and ‘How did the world begin?’.

I’m sure the little man will likely be very fond of ‘why’ and ‘how’.

I know I was. My mum wanted to ban them from my vocabulary altogether at one point.

Thankfully, Louie’s only questions at present are fairly straightforward and along the lines of, ‘Can I have some more food please?’.

I’m equally thankful that currently he can only communicate that by grunting and pointing at the things he’s after.

It’s not yet something I’ve needed to head to Google for.

Mind you, we have previously used search engines to initially diagnose one of his ailments.

We’ve then followed that with a visit to the doctor to get our conclusions confirmed or rubbished, the latter more often being the case.

Dr Google, it turns out, is far from the equivalent of a fully qualified GP.