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It’s Okay To Bribe Your Kid If It Gets Them To Eat Their Vegetables

There are few feats in parenting greater than getting your kid to eat their vegetables. Most of the time it seems like the only green thing they’ll consume is your money. But, there are ways to trick you kid into eating healthy and a study published in the Journal of Health and Economics points out that covering it in cheese and ranch dressing isn’t your only course of action. Good old fashioned bribery works just fine (as long as that bribe isn’t extra dessert).

Researchers ran experiments with 8,000 children in 40 elementary schools for 3 to 5 week periods and broke them into 2 groups: Those who were given a 25 cent token to spend at the school store, carnival, or book fair in exchange for eating a serving a fruit or vegetables — and those who got broccoli as its own reward. The incentive doubled the amount of kids who ate at least one serving a day initially. Those who received tokens for 5 weeks were still eating 44 percent more fruits and vegetables 2 months after the bribe. So the payoff was more than a good prank.

While there are plenty of past studies that suggest bribing kids is totally effective, skeptics suspect that too many incentives might limit your tiny human’s ability to develop intrinsic motivation — aka the drive to do something when there’s no token on the table. But, as author Paul Raeburn and game theorist Kevin Zollman explain in the book The Game Theorist’s Guide To Parenting, these two things are not mutually exclusive, and that bribery could actually help kids build up that motivation. And if it doesn’t, it only costs you a quarter a day to convince them.

[H/T] The Washington Post

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