In a survey conducted by Early Childhood Association across five cities in the country, it was found that nearly 70 % parents from Ahmedabad bribe their child. While chocolates and toys dominated the list of top tools used to bribe children, 31% of parents also bribed the kids with technology and gadget time. Interestingly, of all the cities that were surveyed, Ahmedabad ranked the lowest when it came to bribing with money.
The survey was conducted with 15000 parents from Mumbai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Pune and Chennai between age ranges 3 to 12 years between January and March. The results are indeed worrisome and it is time to educate parents about these methods.
Interestingly, 64% parents also make their child feel guilty by saying they are working to pay for their fees and only 11% parents agreed that they never make their child feel guilty. The result for others cities is 73% for Pune, 63% for Bengaluru, 61% for Chennai and 60% for Mumbai.
Commenting on the study, Swati Popat Vats, President, ECA said, “Daisy Irani, veteran actor, had recently confessed that she was raped at the age of 6 and had kept it a secret and did not share it with her parents. We started the survey when a lot of parents approached us when their child would hide many things from them.
That is when we realized that the threatening and the secret game starts from home itself. In many instances, parents threaten their children by saying if they do not agree with them then they will be sent to a hostel. Similarly, predators are misusing this fact and threaten children by saying that their mother will die or remain unhappy if they disclose the secret.
Bribing, threatening and telling kids to keep a secret are all traditionally rooted parenting styles, each generation experienced them as it is easy. The survey brought to light that children are made to feel guilty that their parents have to work to get good things like toys and school fees, this can have a tremendous impact on the guilt burden of the child and then when a pedophile threatens them that if you do not keep it a secret, I will hurt your parents. Another worrisome trend highlighted in the survey was that parents are using physical punishment for disciplining, most of the times in the heat of the moment and then regretting it and feeling guilty an trying to say sorry to the child. This teaches kids that adults can use physical force with them as long as they say sorry or bribe them later, Vats said.
A child psychiatrist Param Shukla recommends ‘token economy’ method to be adopted by parents. He says, “Token economy involves the process in which to get something, one needs to earn it. So parents should not offer something which is outrageous or very expensive. It should be age appropriate always. For example, for younger children, a hug means a lot whereas, for little older children, stationery or a book to read could be a way to incentify the children as this does not put any negative impact.”
“Parents bribe as they want to substitute their time and in order to not spend time with their children, they try to reward the child. While rewards always work when it comes to discipline, I feel that reward should always be delayed. If the reward is immediate, it becomes a bribe. For example, we used to get the reward only if we score good marks but it would be announced 8-9 months prior to the exam. We’d wait which would motivate us. However, if the reward is immediate, children start putting conditions, says consulting psychiatrist Hansal Bhachech.
Dr.Hansal Bhachech added, “Also, a reward should never be given to hide a secret as it will make them bargain and blackmail in future. One of the biggest concern and bribe today is gadgets. When my patients discuss their issues with me, they often hand over their cell phone to their child so that he/she does not disturb them. And by the time the child reaches 7-8 years of age, they get addicted to phones. The solution to this is that parents need to first understand that they need to spend time with their child and not get rid of their child only then things will change.”