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Parenting 101: The Art of Lovingly Bribing Your Children

Parents have very strong opinions about what they refer to as bribing their children.

I prefer to look at it as an early lesson in action and consequence. If you do something, there will either be a reward or a punishment.

If that is bribery, sign me up.

Potty training my daughter was a nightmare because there was nothing in this world she wanted enough to make her do it (to see that long, sordid journey summarized in one painful post, go here). Treats? Forget it. New toy? Whatever. Revoke beloved cat privileges? “Just make sure to feed him during my absence.”

Parenting the most spirited and stubborn child in the world is a battle of the wills. Since starting kindergarten, she has regressed and we have gone through a new set of challenges. We have also been potty training my son, both of which have caused me to wave a white flag in frustration.

Until we met Super Mario Bros Wii.

There is something about that creepy little mustached man that is like crack cocaine for my children. From Day 1, their reaction has been the extremes: Euphoric when they win, meltdowns when they lose.

But most importantly: I finally found the one thing that would motivate my children to action. Neither are allowed to play Mr. Super Mario unless they are both accident-free.

In the bathroom, that is. There are plenty of near-accidents in the perilous Mushroom Kingdom.

Positive sibling pressure has been a good thing as they encourage the other to go. I.e. “Do you realize because of you, we can’t play Super Mario?”

OK, so maybe it’s not always positive but it is the only thing that has actually worked. And if the Wii can train my kids to go pee?

I’m all about bribery, especially if it results in a catchy marketing slogan for Nintendo.

Fess up: what motivates your children to action?