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Yes, I Bribed My Child

August 29th, 2015 at 12:59 am

I'm not proud of it, but I'm not ashamed either. And maybe it wasn't a bribe; maybe it was a reward.

My poor 10 year old is just having such a hard time with separation anxiety. And she missed day 1 of the class field trip. We drove all the way out and she was told by the teachers that the parent drivers needed to leave in 5 minutes and if she could stay that was good, but she'd need to decide immediately. So she left in the car with me. Luckily it was not as dramatic as the day before at school when she screamed and screamed at dropoff and then called me at 10 am and said she felt sick and then cried on the phone.

We vowed to try the next day for day 2, but I could see she was deflated. And anxious. Really anxious. Only now, it wasn't even about anything. She was just anxious about anxiety.

I told her that we'd try tomorrow, and if she was able to stay then she could pick out a toy. After she read a book and did math on Khan Academy (because it was still a school day and I didn't think being allowed to skip the school trip to play all day was a good idea even if the teachers basically forced her to skip the trip by not giving her enough time to work up the courage to stay), she got on Amazon and found a playmobil set she really wanted. She shyly asked me if it cost too much.

Hell, yes, it cost too much! But I figured if this was something to look forward to and a motivator, than it was actually cheap. I said yes, and she started getting very attached to her playmobil set, even printing out a photo of it to carry in her pocket, and then Istarted worrying that she wouldn't be able to stay for day 2 of the class field trip. And that then she'd be even more upset.

So we started practicing square breathing, which is the only anxiety-reliever that actually works for me.

I worried all night and didn't sleep. I wanted that too-expensive toy her so badly! I knew if she could do it, it'd be a big step forward for her self-confidence.

I drove her back out at 8 am, and we did square breathing the whole way in the car. And then she started weeping quietly. And then the super nice older teacher saw her and came running over. That teacher called over F's best friend K and we stood and talked for a few minutes and we explained square breathing to K and the nice teacher. And then she said "I can't do it" and my heart was racing, so I started square breathing. And then she did. Then we were all square breathing.

And then she said "I'm staying" and I left. Quickly. I almost cried with relief in the car. There was no screaming, and she was still there. On the highway, my phone rang, and I was so relieved to see it was my electrical engineer and not one of the teachers!

Then I got a text and it was another teacher saying "All the girls are so glad she's here!" and then a photo of F in the middle of a bunch of other 5th graders.

When all of the parents went to pick up the kids, one of the 6th grade girls said to me "L and I eat lunch with F and K and A every day. F is so sweet!" F confirmed that she and K and A (also 5th graders) go eat in the 6th grade class with the two 6th graders. And another girl came to say hi and told me she was glad F made it.

F was still clutching the paper with the photo of the playmobil set on it. She asked if she would be able to get it. Um, yes - I already ordered it! It's coming on Sunday!

She said the day was really fun, and they did some great activities, even though the zip line was canceled due to thunder. She felt like part of the group. And maybe Monday dropoff at school will be a little easier? Maybe I'll sleep tonight, to.

So - I bribed my daughter. She might have stayed today anyway, but if the bribe (reward) helped, than I'm ok with it if only for the huge boost in confidence.

8 Responses to “Yes, I Bribed My Child”

  1. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    I know about square breathing and use it, too. I think it is not just a matter of soothing the mind through repetition, but it does some physiological things. A very helpful thing to have taught your child....Sounds like there are some fine people at her school, kids and adults alike Smile

  2. My English Castle Says:

    Oh, the poor kid. I think you did the right thing. I hope you all have a relaxing weekend and next week goes more smoothly.

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    You are a good mama! Anxiety is so tough. I deal with it and notice it in my girls at times, too. Fingers crossed Monday goes as smooth as possible.

  4. CB in the City Says:

    So glad she had a successful outing!

  5. Another Reader Says:

    I don't think you bribed her. I think you taught her how to focus on a goal and tune out the anxiety to get to the goal. As she gets older, she can use this lesson to get through other stressful, anxiety-inducing situations.

  6. rob62521 Says:

    I wouldn't look at it as a bribe, but an incentive. Life is often learning to do things so you can have other things. Plus, you showed her you understood her anxiety and gave her a purpose for overcoming it. Good job, mama!

  7. Buendia Says:

    Thank you, everyone! One of the ways I'm getting through this with F is my amazing support network (this includes family, my wonderful friends, other mothers at school and ALL OF YOU!!!)

  8. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I'm glad you were able to figure out a way to help F find a way to deal with her anxiety about school. I hope she really enjoys her toy!

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