I Can Get My Kid to Do ANYTHING for a …

This kid was potty trained at 20 months thanks to Toys R Us. Still likes to pee on trees though...

Momservation: When you figure out what your kid’s motivation is, exploit the heck out of it.

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Everybody’s got a price.

Moms potty training kids with M & M’s. Parents using dessert for cleaned dinner plates. Dads giving out $50 bills for straight A’s.

Whatever works to get those little darlings moving in the right direction and expedite the process.

Ah, but the motivation changes. Toddlers get over the novelty of M & M’s. Kids realize eating lima beans is not worth an ice cream cone. Preteens decide their effort should be worth more than a Ulysses S. Grant and more of a Benjamin Franklin.

My gift as a parent has been figuring out what my children’s motivational price is, and getting them to work well below their dollar value.

For example, when my son was potty training I realized he would do ANYTHING to go ride the display bikes around at Toys R Us. So I told him if he kept his big boy underwear dry all day, the next day we would go ride bikes at Toys R Us.

Deal. Kept his underwear dry. We went and tried out every bike on display for an hour. He, to this date, has never had an accident again (BTW, he’s 11 now).

For the record, I took advantage of his underdeveloped negotiating skills. I would’ve spent every day, all day there for 2 weeks if it got him to be potty trained at the end of it. I would’ve purchased him one of the 50 bikes he tested out – maybe two. I would’ve bought him ANYTHING in Toys R Us just to get one of my two kids under 2 years old out of diapers.

Later, in a calculated move, I got my kids hooked on Slurpees. Let them have just enough of it to leave them craving more, desperate for their supplier to get them their next score at any cost.

For a good two years I could get my kids to do ANYTING for a $1.79 Slurpee. Not even the Big Gulp size.

Currently, I finally got my responsibility averse daughter to keep her room spotless, brush her teeth and hair without being asked and nagged, and keep all her belongings picked up around the house.

We negotiated a deal that if she did it for 30 days straight (the amount of time I deemed necessary to prove responsibility and hopefully cement good habits), having to start over if she didn’t earn consecutive daily check marks for job well done, she could become owner of her heart’s desire.

What is it that my 10 year-old covets; will do ANYTHING for?

A turtle.

Don’t tell her – but for this transformation into a responsible, conscientious preteen – I would’ve given her a pony.

Ah, but the house always wins…


  1. Jason Priluck says:

    Very funny! I kinda like negotiating with my 5 year old. (Thanks for the reminder – I’m adding the following story to my blog.) Justin tried to negotiate how many bites of green bean casserole he would have to eat before he could have potato chips. Lesson one – make sure you know how to count before you enter into a negotiation with me! Me: 3, Him: 2, Me: 3, Him: 1, Me: 4, Him: 3, Me: ok, 3. Him: no way daddy (pause) 4? Me: ok, you win. 4!

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