June 3rd, 2008
08:08 AM GMT
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LONDON, England – Let's get away my steady diet of doom and gloom and talk about something else. Bribing kids, in this particular case, kids who are obese. Forget educating your kid about nutrition. Cold hard cash works best.

Should obese children be offered cash rewards to lose weight?

Scientists in Switzerland gathered data on more than 100 families. The families had at least one obese adult and one obese child. They had to follow one of four programs including motivational letters and different diets.

The final option was cold hard cash, bribing the kid - five euros for every kilogram they lost, and five euros each time they improved their body mass index score.

In the words of Professor Claus Luley: "We found that giving the money works in children. They were certainly eager to get their hands on the money."

Now this little experiment got me thinking about the ethic of bribing kids to get them to do something.

Is it right for children to expect some sort of monetary or other material reward for doing something well? Or should a parent try and instill a sense doing something for its own sake, and that in itself is a reward?

In the financial world, bankers, traders, and others get performance related bonuses. So do sports stars, and people in sales.

So why shouldn't a kid get a type of performance related bonus? What's wrong with giving your kids money if they get good grades, or lose weight, keep their room clean, or whatever you deem is important?

Do such incentives for children teach them the wrong values, or is it really just a reflection of the way much of the world operates? In certain instances, I don't have a problem with it.

I look forward to hearing from you, tell me whether you agree or disagree.

soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. Andina

    Ah..Yes...Money rules the world...Money is what makes the world go round...

    I believe that money shouldn't be a reward given to children, money symbolizes wealth and greed (personally). With money one can buy anything they please, therefore, giving money to children, especially young children is very dangerous. In addition, bribing and giving a reward is two different things.

    Personally, if my child has done well, I would give him/her a treat, but i would never tell my child "if you do this, mommy will give you this." Saying this sentence will break the child's morals and give the child power. Power meaning, the child will always use or take advantage of that sentence whenever he/she needs to do something, he/she may use it like: "no, I will only do it if you give me this."

    Bottom-line, what I am trying to say is that the child should show improvements within him/herself and a treat may be given at the end, without the parent mentioning at the beginning. This will keep the child motivated and appreciated.

    June 3, 2008 at 9:12 am |
  2. Jillian

    a better parent would be someone who can raise his/her kids without having to give monetary incentives. just set a good example for the child so he or she can emulate you.

    June 3, 2008 at 9:40 am |
  3. Jihan

    I agree with the bribe. I think it is going to help those kids from dying young.

    June 3, 2008 at 9:43 am |
  4. david

    as a teenager,if i lose 1kg and get five euros,i would go buy chocolate to gain back my 1kg.so therefore my weight would always be the same

    June 3, 2008 at 10:11 am |
  5. Soren

    Well, obviously you are touching something very emotionaly loaded there. I guess that if all other fails, this could be an added incentive to loose wieght, which clearly would benefit the obese child hugely, but I personally do not think it should be the first thing to try.
    And what if the child fails to loose weight. Do we then punish him/her, by cutting the pocket money? Tricky!

    June 3, 2008 at 10:16 am |
  6. Okay

    Too much pampering for my liking.
    Have cake, pick up weight and then to lose it the kid gets money.
    Not right!

    June 3, 2008 at 10:22 am |
  7. Maarten

    I think you shouldn't bribe them. It's been shown that once you'll stop giving them rewards (money in this case) you'll be worse of. So once those kids grow up and they're living on their own they won't have any motivation to maintain their healthy lifestyle because they won't get any rewards.

    Apart from that you can't compare the kids situation to the workplace. (sales, financial world and sport stars) The kids shouldn't see learning values and habits as work but as a things that come with growing up.

    June 3, 2008 at 10:23 am |
  8. Haruna

    "Bribing" children does work but as everything else, it should be done in moderation and perhaps only as a catalyst to get the child to accept the value of doing a particular chore or activity. In order to encourage my ten year old son to learn to touch-type on the computer, I offered him $1.00 for every two hours he spent using the typing programme on the computer. Within two weeks he was typing away like a true professional and there was no need to bribe him any more! It was a win-win situation.

    Abuja, Nigeria.

    June 3, 2008 at 10:23 am |
  9. Jeff

    After our whole lives have been commercialized, let's keep the family free of it. The family is the last place where love, trust, warmth, and genuine intimacy exists. Let's keep it above commercial incentives. Bringing up kids involves teaching them values. We hope that they will study because of the thirst to learn, not to make a quick buck. We teach them that intimacy and sex are a result of a serious relationship, not a commercial deal. Family members should feel responsible to each other for more than a superficial commercial motive. I will not educate my kids to do anything in the family for monetary reward. I also believe that the long hard road of educating to eat and exercise well, to know which foods should be eaten sparingly and which foods are healthier and learning self discipline will be more successful in the long run. And the process will bring more than weight reduction, it also teaches self awareness and body awareness. A slow and resilient process will be longer lasting than doing a quick deal for a buck.

    June 3, 2008 at 10:55 am |
  10. Lucy

    Personally when i allocate a duty to my son to do and he does it well, i will always give him some little money. So that whenever may be his bicycle needs to be repaired or he may need to buy something for himself he doesn't have to come to me. This has not spoilt him and at the same i find that he has learnt a lot on being responsible.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:08 am |
  11. Charles

    I think bribing your kids is wrong.
    Kids are a lot smarter now. They are ready to listen and understand if they educate them on the health benefits of staying fit and having a healthy diet. Do not cut out unhealthy high fat or high sugar foods. Kids love this stuff. Tell then that it can be taken in moderation.

    KL, Malaysia

    June 3, 2008 at 11:14 am |
  12. Chris

    This is a really bad idea. Thin kids who want money are being encouraged to gain weight so they can get money by losing weight.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:15 am |
  13. Laura

    Why would anyone want to give any child some money for behaving?

    My contribution to this is – scrap the benefits and they'll get more serious with themselves.. if in doubt, check the statistics for kids in developing coutries who 'are looking to get sponsored to go to school' the western world needs to tighten up a bit if they want to secure their future generation.

    To cut the long story short, 'Spare the rod and spoil the child'

    June 3, 2008 at 11:34 am |
  14. Thomas

    This is a dangerous area for children. I am focusing on the self esteem aspect of this. Verbal praise means more to kids then most people realize...and REALLY getting to do something ONE on ONE with a parent is VERY special to children...especially if you have more then one. The reward doesn't have to be giving them a thing...see what I mean? Teaching children to rely on monetary rewards presents so many problems later in life that they become obsessed with feeling that their own self worth is tied to their monetary gains. I would not want my child to come to expect money to perform, I would want my child to perform for their own piece of mind.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:35 am |
  15. Phillis B

    ...from the gathered data of 100 families, each family had at least one obese adult, and one obese child...
    You teach your children by example, if a child sees their parent over eating wouldn't the child think that is okay ?. Teaching a child to take care of their health is a parents responsibilty. Parents are becoming lazy in their responsibilty for their children, and not just when it comes to health issues. I see nothing wrong in rewarding a child for certain things, but to bribe a child is redicules.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:56 am |
  16. The Wise One

    To bribe children to diet, is to take the easy way out.
    As a Father of three; when my children were small, they were encouraged to play outside on their bicycles, or became involved with horse riding and skating. They were never encouraged to slouch in front of the t.v. for hours.
    This encouragement to pursue an active lifestayle has remained with them all and even today as adults and Parents; they spend leiure time walking in the forest with their own children.
    None of them are obese. It's all down to adopting an intelligent lifestyle and eating sensibly.

    June 3, 2008 at 12:08 pm |
  17. Waheed

    I think it's really good idea of giving them (kids) money for losing weight, and in same time more then half of worlds children are dying of hunger !

    I think bribing is wrong for everyone not only kids

    June 3, 2008 at 12:13 pm |
  18. Robert

    Bribes only will foster problems later. As hard as it may seem, reasoning is better than bribing. Take the tough road not the seemingly easy one.

    One can be caught by the law of diminishing returns as well – how does one 'value' an action/or non action?

    June 3, 2008 at 12:22 pm |
  19. Hel

    Parents often don't realise the power of praise. We do not need to reinforce a child for behaving well with monetary means. what the child wants, more than anything else, is attention from their parents.

    when your child does their chores, consider giving him/her a hug rather than reaching for your wallet. else your child will become a spoit brat, and has the added benefit of keeping money in your wallet.

    June 3, 2008 at 12:22 pm |
  20. Bezu

    I don't believe bribing will solve the problem. Once again we should divert our focus from the quick fix and face the challenge from the root. As the Bible clearly states parents should guide their child to the right path not to the short cut.

    June 3, 2008 at 12:30 pm |
  21. Janice

    No. i don't think you should pay children for doing what they are supposed to do. Paying money to lose wieght tells them they are not doing this for health reason, but for money. How long do you think the weight will stay off? Will they have to pay it back if they gain it back?

    June 3, 2008 at 12:36 pm |
  22. Cornelius

    I have 2 little girls myself and yes, when they do something good e.g. walk the dog, make good grades on a test I give them a couple of Euros. Theres nothing wrong with that, even when I was a child my parents did the same thing.

    June 3, 2008 at 12:38 pm |
  23. Sean

    Parents should lead by example. My toddler used to call me fat and mimic my cigarette smoking with a colored pencil. I stopped smoking and go to the gym everyday. Now he tells me how muscular I am and even does push ups with me.

    June 3, 2008 at 12:59 pm |
  24. Victoria, New Hampshire

    What about the huge boost in self-esteem that the child experiencing from a job done well? Or from dropping those pounds and fitting into clothing that they feel good in when they go out into the world. That's a much better 'reward system' than bribery, and the results last a lifetime!

    June 3, 2008 at 12:59 pm |
  25. Jon

    How about giving kids an allowance for work done around the house, and teaching by example when it comes to things like weight.

    June 3, 2008 at 1:08 pm |
  26. Tim Graper

    I don't see what the difference in rewarding a kid with money for losing weight versus giving them money for good grades. Both of them are rewards for doing something well. I have a sister that is five feet tall and weighs 215 lbs. She is only 15 years old. I am 23 and weigh 185. If I were close to my sister I would offer her money to lose weight if that is what it took. If money makes someone live a healthy life that is great.

    June 3, 2008 at 1:10 pm |
  27. lydia goutas

    Bribing is not the same as a reward and as the other blogs point out , in children who figure out the system but not the purpose behind the parents intention, could lead to results such as manipulating weight to increase the reward.

    But the bigger point here is that many things are and should be done with little or no reward. That´s the point of grace, and volunteerism. . Whether children or adults, if they have the opinion they must also be rewarded for conducting themselves in a responsible manner, then they will expect it from employers just for showing up and wont dgo the extra mile unless paying for it. And they will expect to be paid back for volunteerism defying a very important part of any society . Many people and organizations depend on volunteers and good souls who help them. . When these chidlren grow up will they be able to parent without getting a bribe or reward (should they go out shopping if they had to discpiline their chid) . in short, bribing /rewarding for basics makes for a selfish world

    June 3, 2008 at 1:24 pm |
  28. Mark, France

    We have two boys and two different systems. The younger child has a sheet listing the things expected of him. Every Sunday, we go through the sheet with him, and for each item done well since the previous Sunday, he gets 10 centimes. The older one gets five euros a week or 20 euros a month, depending on his behavior. Before these systems, we gave the boys little surprises for being good, like Pokémon cards, novelties (magic tricks, mulitcolored pens, etc.) and various games. This system worked well, as it gave the boys a goal for being good, and they competed against each other to win items of greater value. As you can imagine, the cost exceded the return and the house filled with junk, so we switched to money-based systems. Do I think this compromises their values? The systems are linked to work: No work, no cash. They work hard, they get money; they slip up, no money. The youngest, for example, called Mom and Dad dog poo in anger last week - and got fired. He gets no more money until the end of the year. Six years old and he's already lost his first job.

    June 3, 2008 at 1:40 pm |
  29. Tema Best

    I'm not a fan of money, in fact I wish it didn't exist at all and we had continued to barter and share our goods and knowledge. However, the reality is that it does and it plays a role in every aspect of our daily lives so I will teach my son the value of money and that it is simply a means to an end, say philanthropy.

    Tema, Brussels

    June 3, 2008 at 2:13 pm |
  30. Mark

    I don't agree with giving them money. Once you start paying them they'll start asking for more things like: How much will you pay me to study? To take a shower? To wash dishes? To go to college? Etc.

    Rewarding children with other things such as going out for a movie, a nice dinner, some clothes or a gift is ok, but one should not overdo.

    Adults do get payed because they do a lot of work, however, I do believe professional sportspeople are sometimes overpayed.

    June 3, 2008 at 2:25 pm |
  31. Tom S.

    Give the kids the cash for losing the weight. Then start charging them for rent, utilities, food, etc...

    June 3, 2008 at 2:32 pm |
  32. Chris

    As a teenager, I say that this is a very bad idea.

    Looking back on life, there are plenty of things I should have done for the sake of doing them, and not for any reward. Why should someone get 5 euros they for every kilogram they lose?

    The sense of entitlement children of the current generation face is destroying our society. Kids think that they should get rewards for things they should already be doing in the first place. More and more we're coddling kids who aren't able to cope with reality. I say go back to the way it was; do what you're supposed to or get a good beating. Because that's life, folks. You don't do what you're supposed to, the rest of the world is more than happy to screw you over.

    June 3, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  33. Silver

    OK, why not give drug addicts money to go on rehab as well, how about alcoholics? How about smokers? And why not give money to petty thieves so they don't have to steal?

    Since we're at it. why not give money to criminals so they don't have to rob banks – hey money's the problem and solution right? Oh, mustn't forget the big picture problems, let's give money to North Korea and Iran, maybe they'll start to like us and just be nice.

    People, money is not the cause or solution to these problems. Kids do not decide to overeat because they don't have enough pocketmoney. You are confusing the issues – get to the root of the problem. In the case of obese kids, I suspect neglecting parents and dysfunctional family environment as well as a disposition in the child are the real causes.

    June 3, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  34. nomi

    As someone who works with people who suffer from eating disorders, I cannot ignore that bribing children with money to lose weight is blatantly planting the seed for an eating disorder. This form of education is teaching one thing only: That success equals money and weight loss.

    If we are seriously looking to solve the problem of obesity in children, then let's begin to practice what so many people have suggested in the comments: a good role model (as difficult a that may be for some of the parents – perhaps parents need to visit a dietician), positive verbal reinforcement, and a consistent display of love and affection.

    The reward for weight loss must be related to the weight loss! In other words now that I have lost weight I am healthy – explain the long term benefits of being healthy – read with them about what will change INSIDE their bodies when they are treating the outside with love – we need to help them see what they cannot see on their own. The outward reward will be expereinced as their peers will most probably begin to treat them with more respect as they begin to respect themselves.

    June 3, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  35. Kay Leppert

    Sometimes rewards help to promote positive behavior. If not money, there can be other incentives, such as a video game or a trip or clothes. I would use these incentives and money could be one, when all other things fail to correct negative behaviors.

    June 3, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  36. Malimoo

    What would the kids be spending the money on, more video games so they can sit and do nothing?

    Kids need to learn to lose weight to feel good about themselves. That is a reward in of itself. Better to spend the money on nutritiional guidance and sport/movement activities.

    June 3, 2008 at 3:47 pm |
  37. Bonnie Siegfried

    ABSOLUTELY NOT! Behavior and doing chores should be part of living in the family unit. Money shoud be earned by extra chores ie cutting grass or shoveling snow. A small allowance should be given if their daily chores ie setting and clearing tsble etc. are done.

    June 3, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  38. Toby, zurich

    I think "bribe" is a loaded term, and out of place. You bribe someone who is already taking money to perform a fiduciary duty to the state. Children are not fiduciaries to the state, unless you are Kim Il Sung or someone like that.

    So bribe is the wrong word, because the context is wrong. "Paying" kids to behave is also a terrible choice of words, that would lead to a disasterous reality. Instead of a slave state in your family, you'd have a unionized mob, and strikes against homework.

    Maybe the best words to use are that these Swiss folk are educating their children with the material and conceptual "thing" called money. But letting the children experience the "thing", the children educate themselves and learn to control it.

    I think if you want to make a thing, any thing, your slave and not your master, you want to learn about it, learn to control it. Because money is just a thing. It isn't a bribe without a perverted context, the all righteous state..

    June 3, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  39. bob galeotti

    COME ON! I don't care care if kids DO react well towards money. It is a bad thing to do. And punish the parents for not taking them out in the natural world and learn stuff, besides staying in shape.

    June 3, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  40. H.H.M

    The real question to be ask is if “ what you called bribery “ should be used in child education.
    Next implicated question is “ what is your goal / preparing your children for the life of grown ups “ as well as if you intend to give to your children “ none monetary values “!
    my answer is children should be taught to respect as values other things than money on the basis “ that these other thing “ will remain with them whilst money may come and go.

    June 3, 2008 at 4:12 pm |
  41. Toby, zurich

    In addition, it follows from the economic doctrines of Adam Smith and others (ie western culture) that economic growth is good because it gets people working and building wealth.

    Families that sit around bickering are like third world countries that do the same. If money can drive the wheels of benefit, why cast it as an evil that children must fear?

    One thing i truly admire about the swiss, having lived here for a while, is that they don't fear money. They are pretty comfortable around it, in fact. The Swiss and money get on just fine.

    June 3, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  42. Tim

    Why is the debate framed as one or the other. Shouldn't we focus on the broad mix of solutions that deliver the best long term outcomes and how those can be tailored to the needs of specific children and parents. I think this notion of an absolute yes or no is hugely detrimental to the goal of benefiting our children, all children!

    There is no substitute for parents who lead by example. Who do a thing because it needs to be done, lend a hand because it's needed with no expectation for some return. I feel strongly this example should be set and then the expectation set for children to do the same. There is no limit to the good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit. That said, children also need to learn and learn early that their are choices and repercussions. Cleaning their room is their job not the parents.

    That said, children need to learn that work has rewards. They need to learn the value of money. It is a reality. Incentives of a broad variety of types are a critical element of parenting. Money is one and a good one when used in select ways and as a part of a mix. The notion that it should never be used is, I feel, just wrong. The notion that it should be used for everything, even more so.

    Personally, I'd be interested in a great deal more research being done and the debate couched in terms that encourage us to seek out that information and contribute to it...so that eventually we make better decisions on the greatest amount of real information.

    June 3, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  43. Leonardo

    I agree with Andina. That's what I do with my kid. For example, when he does well in school we all go out to eat somewhere he likes and we tell him that we are "celebrating" together, not that it is a reward or something he should always expect.

    As a result, he enjoys the celebration, feels appreciated but also he enjoys learning for the sake of it.

    However, a little money for something important as weight and health... I guess if it is well managed by the parents it could lead to good things. Having their own money to buy stuff, no questions asked, is always interesting for teenagers. I guess parents always need to exercise good judgment and apply it to their kids.

    June 3, 2008 at 4:43 pm |
  44. Amy

    It's a potentially good short-term solution that can be used as a catalyst to start the weightloss process. Eventually, once the kid starts to appreciate the benefits of weightloss (more self esteem, more fun shopping for clothes, more energy), the money won't become as important. But if the kid keeps relying on the money, this could definitely pose problems in the future: you shouldn't expect mom and dad to pay you to maintain a healthy weight when you're 18.

    June 3, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  45. MInt_Fudge

    i was an overweight kid.. (not too long ago) and i was advised to lose weight, and i managed to lose it without any financial incentive at all. my parents strictly controlled my diet.

    Rewards are great to make the child feel appreciated but,
    i think basic values, and a sense of whats important must be instilled in the child before giving out rewards, or the purpose is lost. Also when it comes to grades etc, the child must be rewarded for the effort put in and not only results.

    June 3, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  46. Kiki

    Is this any surprise? Are we so far gone on the subject of materialism that instead of doing the far more difficult thing–which is to teach children that the most important rewards are those that do not involve money but are emotional choices which are often hard–that we pay them to learn? Learning is built into the human animal. The pleasure and the rewards come from the work itself, not the result. The result is the gravy; learning to love the process is what's important. However, it's entirely in keeping with our sick and corrupted American way of life to take the easy way out, and so many of us Americans are all about what's easy. It's why we're obese to begin with.

    June 3, 2008 at 5:54 pm |
  47. Ricardo M. Parker

    Let them die. We are overpopulated enough. Maybe we can feed the fat children fo the starving masses of the world

    June 3, 2008 at 6:02 pm |
  48. Silje

    When I was young(er!) my mother refused to give us money for getting better grades. My sister and I would very frequently ask/beg for such an arrangement, but she never caved. Many kids in at my school got money for grades. Our neighbour's children got 100 Norwegian kroner for the equivalent on an A, and 50 for a B.

    The youngest never finished high school and the other spent five semesters at university without passing one exam. I'm just finishing my bachelor, my sister her master. Not to gloat (much) or anything, just an example.

    June 3, 2008 at 6:08 pm |
  49. claudine

    i see nothing wrong with paying kids to behave

    there is already a website http://www.stickk.com that can be used to motivate kids to meet their behavioral goals.

    June 3, 2008 at 6:17 pm |
  50. Sherri

    It depends upon the amount of the bribe and how long it lasts. Every child is motivated differently. There are specific tasks that my 8 yr old must perform around the house just because he is part of the family and expected to help out. For example, clear his dishes from the table, pick up his room, etc. However, I think it is important to teach children how to manage money. So, I try to find ways for him to earn a little bit of spending money and encourage / motivate him to improve on important skills. Right now, he's intimidated by beginner chapter books. So, I started by giving him .50 cents for every chapter that he read in the 1st chapter book. After that, he has to complete the entire book before he can earn anything. Once he has completed a couple of chapter books, he will then have to read a series of books where he has to finish the entire series before he gets anything (an all or nothing event). I figure he's learning a valuable skill and learning how to follow through on tasks. I couldn't be happier with the results. He has read 3 chapter books and is now reading instead of watching movies. The goal is that once he has mastered basic reading skills, he will develop an interest for reading and start to do it on his own. After that, we change the incentive to something else.....

    June 3, 2008 at 6:27 pm |
  51. lrc

    What a great idea. Teach your kids that every time they do the right thing, they should expect a prize – that way when they leave home they can spend years in therapy dealing with their sense of entitlement issues.

    Bribing kids turns them into brats with no appreciation for the subtler (yet ultimately more gratifying) rewards that come from taking care of your body, being kind to others, or striving for your personal best . So what's more important? The immediate goals of making your child do what you want them to, or teaching them to have integrity and decency throughout their life?

    June 3, 2008 at 6:49 pm |
  52. Stephanie, Switzerland

    Definition of bribing: "Something, such as money or a favor, offered or given to a person in a position of trust to influence that person's views or conduct." Children are too often manipulated by their parents rather than been guided and encouraged to be responsible. Bribing parents please themselves by influencing their children to fit easily in their standards and meet their expectations without encouraging self-esteem, problem-solving and communication.

    June 3, 2008 at 7:10 pm |
  53. Joseph Nagy

    As a responsible media conglomerate you should not even ask this question. What ever happened to doing what is right and good for its inherent value?

    June 3, 2008 at 7:22 pm |
  54. Average Joe

    If Todd Benjamin is a thorough journalist, then he would know that Euro's are not used in Switzerland. They use Swiss Francs. Finance, anyone ??

    June 3, 2008 at 7:55 pm |
  55. Desi

    Bribing your children is a method used by people who are failures at parenting. A good parent will dedicate time from the beginning of a child's life to teach him/her good eating habits, the importance of studying, and other positive values. Of course, parents are too busy with work to care and by the time it is too late, they have to resort to cheap tactics like bribing to make up for their faliures as parents. This leads children to grow up money is the focus of life and children can be bought off just like they were.

    June 3, 2008 at 8:15 pm |
  56. Joe

    Why are kids fat anyway? Too many video games, big screens with plush couches, and a closet full of junk food. All paid for by their fat parents. What happened to the days when kids mowed the lawn, took out the trash, washed the family car, doing real chores, and ate at the table with the whole family at a specific time. Kids used to play outside all day and eat a balanced meal. Not any more! I have a better idea. Let's tax the parents who themselves are over-weight and are setting a wrong example for their children. That way we can balance the federal budget and have enough food for the people in this world who really need the extra care.

    June 3, 2008 at 8:26 pm |

    All the eating disorder's we hear about , on TV the NEW'S. Now we want to pay children to learn these behavior's ? Praise them help them, but bribe them? There are more important thing's than money. Love and self worth come to mind. Not a sound plan to me.

    June 3, 2008 at 9:02 pm |
  58. Katie, Omaha

    Yes. When my daughter was in elementary and middle school, getting very mediocre grades, I proposed the following pay scale which amounted to big bucks for report card grades: A $35, B+ $30,
    B $25, B- $20. Offering a large monetary reward for the grades was a great incentive and my daughter's grades improved over time as she collected more substantial amounts of money at report card time.

    Eventually she became a nearly straight-A student which she never would have believed that she could be. Once she saw how good it felt to get A's, especially when you work for them and don't take them for granted, she forgot about the money and we never paid it anymore.

    Some people would criticize me for bribery, but it worked, and since then, I've talked to many other parents who told me the same thing worked for them. What a great idea to use money to incent kids to exercise and eat healthily and conquer obesity. Just like my daughter with the grades, their pride at affecting a positive change on themselves through diet and exercise will eventually become its own incentive.

    June 3, 2008 at 9:23 pm |

    Our goverment's have given money time and time again, and are still doing it. That is like paying some one to be your friend. What kind of friend is that. Helping people who need it, is a good thing . But trying to buy the Love and respect of your child, what is it we are realy teaching them ? Money is the answer to it all !!!!! I want my children to respect people and there right's. Not their money. Give them Love and Respect , and that is what you will get in return. Not that they can buy it.

    June 3, 2008 at 9:32 pm |
  60. The Dad

    If Good Parenting does not work....then one has to pay for performance. It's a negative way to raise a child.

    Love, communication, time and other parent basics makes kids understand.

    The Dad

    June 3, 2008 at 9:50 pm |
  61. ..

    I don't think they should be money as that would lead to more children wanting to get obese, so they can be paid

    June 3, 2008 at 9:58 pm |
  62. Brian

    Life is full of bribes. In one form or another we all take them everyday. Money is not always the reward, sometimes it is attention, love, or affirmation. "You do something you know I want you to do (whether this is a verbal or non-verbal communication) and I will give you x. For those of us who work, it's the same idea. You go to work, you get a paid check (the main reason people work). Sure there is satisfaction but most of that we can get from other things. Here is the catch with bribing and children... it can't be money alone....but it can be money along with education, encouragement, praise, and love from a parent. The combination can be very powerful and it is a means to an end. Taking a broader view of this topic, imagine if we used this money bribing concept for adults and it worked...society as a whole would benefit from lower health care costs as obesity is associated with higher morbidity and as a corollary, higher health care costs. Yes, there will always be those who try to play the system, gain weight only to loose and make money but why not build in a disincentive for those and require the weight be kept off for a certain amount of time or the money is paid back. Obesity is a huge (no pun intended) problem in the U.S. and the individual is to blame but restaurant portions, fast food company's, schools, the media and food labeling industries all share the responsibility to improve this situation. For children, the parents have the most responsibility... be a role model – show kids that exercise is part of everyday life, cook healthy meals and don't let kids sit around for hours on end being sedentary playing video games and watching TV... and yes, reward them (especially with non-monetary encouragement and even with money or "treats" when they act in a healthy way). I used to get money for good grades and although I probably would have got them anyway, it was a little extra incentive to push myself and it worked. My final comment is this.... don't let your kids become obese but if they are there already, do what it takes to get them health.

    June 3, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  63. David

    This idea is ludicrous. It's true that money as a type of extrinsic motivation will definitely change behavior, but at what cost?

    A study found that after children had been paid M & Ms to color in their coloring books, they lost all motivation to color in their coloring books unless they were being paid M & Ms. Their intrinisic motivation was totally gone, and their behavior relied upon the extrinsic source of chocolates.

    As for paying kids money to behave well, can we not expect similar results?

    June 3, 2008 at 11:26 pm |
  64. Gino Punsalan

    Behind a fat kid is often an adult responsible for letting him or her loose in the kitchen. My overweight nephew is being raised by his grandparents. During the summer, under my brother's care, he drops the unnecessary pounds with proper diet and exercise. Then comes the school year when he goes back to the grand parents. He gains back the weight and adds lots more. If there is anyone to bribe it should be the grand parents.

    June 4, 2008 at 12:02 am |
  65. Nino

    "Do such incentives for children teach them the wrong values, or is it really just a reflection of the way much of the world operates? In certain instances, I don’t have a problem with it."

    They teach both. Whether we accept it or not, the truth is this world operates in the wrong values

    June 4, 2008 at 12:23 am |
  66. Elsbeth McQuire

    Although sometimes the virtue of reward and punishment is used by most parents to nurture their children's behavior, I think it is not wise to use this saying over and over because if this is the case, then everytime we parents ask our children to do something, they will always have in mind that "the only reason I'm doing this is because I want a reward from Mummy,"Although once in a while it would be good to give our children "treats" as they call it.

    June 4, 2008 at 12:35 am |
  67. Maria

    No, don´t give the kid money.
    Teach the obese parent to cook right and eat right. Advise him/her to go out with the child and play ball or any other outdoor activity that gets the child into motion.
    Start with the parents, the kid will follow.

    June 4, 2008 at 12:42 am |
  68. csyoo

    It is always worhty to teach kids that there are more important things than monetary or material reward.

    My son is a second grader. I used to tell him that if you got 100% on your test , you would get a 1-dollars award. But, as he grew up, he is longing for bigger rewards. But, I tried something else. I gave them warm and encourageous comments when he showed me good scores. I gave him comments like : " great, you are now getting much better, I am sure you are growing bigger both physically and mentally." "How did you do that ? I read the books many times before the tests and I discussed with mom when I have questions" : great ! now, you know what to do; you wil be a good teacher for your brother soon. You will be sharing my and mon's loading. Great, son. " This spiritual reward snowballs. My son is now more responsible for his own work at school and sometimes helps me and my wife tutoring his younger brothers.

    Monetary reward can sabotage kids' growth mentally. But, if you can device a proper spiritual reward, it can snowball.

    June 4, 2008 at 1:15 am |
  69. Scott

    My kids are fortunate as they get everything they need + some. Our love is not conditional on anything they do or don't. Love versus "stuff" are very segregated concepts in our house

    But for the stuff they WANT outside of that, they have to work for it. Extra work can earn them a little, but they really only have 2 jobs:
    a) be kids and play
    b) reach their academic potential

    I pay them very well on an incentive plan for achieving excellent grades. If you've got half your mortgage paid down, you're probably ok with this philosophy. Else...

    June 4, 2008 at 1:22 am |
  70. Rebecca Lo

    Nowadays, it's a world around the money. I think the kids' mind are not adult enough to treat with money. Their values will become worse.

    June 4, 2008 at 1:22 am |
  71. sue

    i think they should be given an incentive to lose weight. if we want to encourage them we need to give them something in return for their effort.

    June 4, 2008 at 1:26 am |
  72. Paul

    Bribe them? Why?....Just don't feed them. You are the parent, you should be in control and set a good example. Parents buy the food, so make healthy food choices available, and keep junk food out of the house. It's hard to get fat from eating carrots!!!

    June 4, 2008 at 2:01 am |
  73. The NL

    Bribing your kids is for parents who find it very hard to raise their kids properly. Sometimes they need to tidy their room, or help out a little. Once in a while you can surprise them with a small present for being helpsome or being a good kid. If your child loses weight surprise him/her and go shopping for a new outfit. If they expect you to buy something for them, or give them money, many times you end up in a fight.

    June 4, 2008 at 11:48 am |
  74. Maria Giovanna Villari, Naples, Italy

    No, Todd,
    No money, in this case, cause most of time obesity is a sad disease.
    In rich parts of world we have obesity, in poor ones, children dye of hunger.
    Maybe I would send obese chidren to visit India and Africa. Sort of "money for travel".
    Maria Giovanna
    ps I'm out of Naples again. It's a city full of obeses, boys and girls... Crazy city!

    June 4, 2008 at 12:51 pm |
  75. Riley

    Why, now that crude is trading at 122.00 per barrel, are we seeing no corresponding drop in gas prices? As crude was trading ABOVE 135.00 a barrel, the world watched as gas prices ticked up ever so little but did so each day–there has been no downward movement at the pump since the CFTC announced it was investigating oil futures trading, but there has been a 17.00 drop per barrel since then. And, gas reserves are rising, so consumption is down, doesn't that alone warrant a drop in gas prices?

    June 4, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  76. elsie,manila

    our world today put so much emphasis on material accumulation leaving our moral spectrum in waste bin...instead of monetary reward a good parent should teach their kids good values which will help them in shaping their futures

    June 5, 2008 at 8:28 am |
  77. sonja

    I have a nephew who is severely overweight and wonder if this could have helped him to lose weight when he was younger (he is now almost 20 and if he were to lose weight, it would have to come from his own desire).

    Ulitmately, healthy eating habits and a strong sense of self and self image have to come from somewhere else other than solely a monetary reward.

    That said, changing behaviour is a very difficult thing . Perhaps if the money was offered in conjunction with training (for both parents and children) about healthy eating and lifestyle habits.

    I don't have a problem about offering monetary reward for other things, eg some unusual house chores, so a child can earn some pocket money... and in fact isn't it a symbolic monetary reward that many parents offer through sticker reward charts – especially with the bribe of a present after earning so many stars?

    June 5, 2008 at 8:51 am |
  78. bookratt

    No, they should not be paid to lose weight. You would be tying the reward to financial gain, not creating and boosting internal motivation in the obese kids themselves, to lose the weight or to eat properly in future.

    Instead they should be shown goals that make sense:

    obese kids get sicker far more often and can't play or move around as well as kids who aren't; mas a result they have less fun than kids of lesser size

    obese kids tend to socialize poorly, make and keep friends less easily ; they feel lonely and sad as a result

    many obese people report job discrimmination and fewer opportunities in the workplace, based on their weight/size

    many report fewer opportunities for happy, stable, healthy romantic relationships in future

    Absent the money being given to them in future, how will the children moderate their eating habits and make good food choices? Will they not simply say "there's no reward in it for me, and as it is so hard to do, I am not willing to do that much work for "nothing"?

    Tying money to chores done, or work done in a family business, etc, is fine. One begets the other and that is easily understood and internalized by kids. Work =money. Responsibility=gain.

    June 5, 2008 at 9:05 am |
  79. Kurt

    Hi Todd,

    A simple answer to this. Is bribing a child for their bennifit or is it just an excuse for the parent for not spending the time with their child? If a child needs to loose weigh, what ever happened to the parent going out and playing football with their kids, or going for a walk, a hike in the mountains? I think the world has become too money involved. When a parent decides they need all their time for the sole purpose of supporting their decision of life style which takes the almighty dollar, instead of giving some of that time with the ones who idolize them, their kids, then they shoud have just admitted, "Their lives carry a higher value to them then the love and adoration of their kids", and not had the kids in the first place.

    June 5, 2008 at 10:52 am |
  80. zen

    Disagree. You will be teaching wrong values to the kid, i.e. everything can be bought. They will grow up to be calculative and money hungry. After all they are kids, if you explain once and they do not obey keeping on explaining. Parents should have patience. And explaining the reason why it is forbidden will have some impact.. But instead of this if money is offered, then the kid will know how to always manipulate a situation. Kids are very smart and dangling money in front of them is not the correct way of bringing them up. Also one does not want to make them material minded even before they start standing on their own 2 feet!! You cannot compare this to the performance related bonus given to working people.

    June 5, 2008 at 11:43 am |
  81. Julian

    I think many people have to get real. Rewards are needed definitely but to each case or problem or sickess etc. needs different medicine. In real life when a person is sick when he sees a doctor some doctors conveniently gives anti-biotics as a simple solution(or lazy) solution. Same here. Obesity is a habitual problem like some others have pointed out i.e. lack of exercise, acitvity time outdoor due to lack of play time by adults etc. so money incentive may not work here.

    On the other extreme doing house chores are real hardwork .Money incentives may work here.

    As to which medicine works best, I believe the more you diagnose the problem and find the best solution to each individual's real problem, there lies the medicine. So incentivise your kids or not with cash or others is just one way to skin a cat but there are 101 other ways that are available is just that we have not explored it yet. Isn't that what makes life great by our unique decisions if not everyone is "perfect". Than again what is "perfect" or "ideal"?

    June 5, 2008 at 3:28 pm |
  82. Chris, London UK

    This is an absurd idea. I am a healthy person, I work hard to keep a fit and active lifestyle, I go to the gym 4 times a week and eat healthy. Do I get a money as an incentive, no. So why should some one who is obease be given money to lose weight.

    If they must be given the money then maybe it should be in a vocuher format which can be used to buy healthy foods or in exchange for membership of sports or fitness clubs, not given to them as cold hard cash which in the vast majority of cases will go on the purchase of more obeasity creating foods.

    June 6, 2008 at 10:41 am |
  83. Kate, Australia

    Economics 101: Let "market forces" create an equilibrium.

    Even if monetary incentives ( or any other type of incentives as a matter of fact) may work for awhile, it will not be enough to sustain kids' interest in staying healthy. For your kid to remain incessantly healthy, there must be some sort of innate ability to resist unhealthy food and go on diets. So yes, studies may show monetary incentives do work... but i think to prove this theory right... further studies must be conducted to illustrate long term effects of these monetary incentives.

    June 10, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  84. Angeli

    Instead of being righteous and sitting on a moral high horse, let's face it we all use carrot and stick approach with our kids at some time or the other ..if not all the time. Money is just one more carrot. Whilst I wouldn't be encouraging the giving of money to kids for what they should be doing in any case, I don't feel the need to pass judgement on those who do.

    I do reward my kids when they do something well (even if its just a sticker) and I also teach them there are consequences when they misbehave. That's how life works, rightly or wrongly. Philanthropy is all very well when you have the ability to indulge in it ...not everyone does.

    One good thing that perhaps comes out of rewarding children with money is teaching them that you have to earn money, its not handed down. You can also teach them to be responsible about the money they earn; not spending it on instant gratification like chocolates, rather saving up for the one thing they really want. There are important values to be learned about money. Be realistic we live in world which revolves around money. All we can try and do is instill values in our kids that will make them well rounded adults.

    June 11, 2008 at 10:58 am |
  85. Tim Graper

    I don't unerstand what is wrong with a reward for kids losing weight. If paying them to lose weight gets them to the age of 35 then guess what it is a lot better than them dying at 28 because their body can't function properly and their circulation is messed up because of choleserol. If you pay someone that doesn't mean that they expect to get payed for everything they do. If you have a kid that is like that then you kid is not right and overly selfish and probably won't make it far in life anyway. No one is ever going to expect to get rewards just for showing up at work that is a retarded argument. For those of you who are against this then you had better not pay your kids for getting an A or in your opinion the same thing will happen and they will turn into a horrible human being and not be worth anyting. No one expects to get paid for volunteering either. That is one of the most outrageous things I have heard. Every grown person, and most kids, understand the concept of volunteering. If money lets a kid live becasue they are not obese then you did them a huge favor for 20 bucks. Would you save someone's life for 20 bucks?

    June 12, 2008 at 11:30 am |
  86. Geo

    I believe giving your children an incentive for working hard or achieving there goals is essential, So giving them a gift or money gives them the motivation, but is only part of the answer, I think its all how to get your kids to achievr their potential in life.

    June 15, 2008 at 12:00 am |
  87. Jayant

    Well, what it really does is instill in children the belief that the only goal/reward they need to work toward is money. As a parent, I teach my child the importance of money, not the supremacy of money. Why not slap the child, and give them $10 or $20 for each slap. That way kids learn an equally important lesson about life – you can get kicked and abused, but as long as you can take it and as long as you are making big bucks, it's worth it.

    June 16, 2008 at 4:56 pm |

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