8 Totally Acceptable Ways to Bribe Kids to Help at Thanksgiving

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Think of these as small incentives that will save your sanity – nothing wrong with that!
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By Lorraine Allen

We shouldn’t have to bribe anyone, ever, least of all our underage family members during the holidays, for crying out loud. But we moms have so much additional responsibility this time of year. As soon as Thanksgiving arrives, we become hostesses in addition to being chefs, caregivers, and peace makers. We’re the 24/7 extended-family toilet-plungers, housecleaners, cheerleaders, dog-walkers, diaper-changers, and so much more. And let’s face it, we sometimes need to resort to some extreme measures to get our kids to behave and help out when we’re this maxed. Just think of these as smart, strategic incentives for the kids – and for you!

Image ©iStock.com/Susan Chiang

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An Extra Treat

If kids keep all their toys, clothes, and stuffed animals off the living floor and furniture over the holiday weekend, then they’ll get an extra treat at the end of each day (this is a great way to use up some Halloween candy you might still have hanging around at home).

Image ©iStock.com/MihailUlianikov

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An Allowance Bonus

If kids do their chores without constant reminders, and take on a couple extra during the Thanksgiving break (like feeding pets, raking leaves, or washing dishes,) they’ll earn an extra or more as a special Thanksgiving Holiday Allowance Bonus that they can use however they choose at the end of the weekend. Make it worth their while, depending on their age. For kids 5 and under, or so is fine. For older kids who can do more helpful chores, bump it up a bit. Teenagers, who can be as helpful as an adult, if not even more so, should be rewarded accordingly if you really want them on your side. Consider what it’s worth to you, and your sanity, and pay them a decent incentive at least. Don’t skimp – YOU deserve this too, moms!

Image ©iStock.com/Fertnig

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Extra Screen Time

If kids are on their best behavior on Thanksgiving Day (including helping to set or clear the table, sitting still at least most of the meal, and NOT picking their noses or making fun of Grandpa’s dentures or Auntie’s mothball perfume) then they’ll get some extra screen time or favorite game time as a reward. You can even devise a secret hand signal with them (I like the peace sign, which doubles as rabbit ears,) to use as a reminder throughout the meal for little ones. This keeps it fun and helps them keep it together. Hey, whatever works, right?!

Image ©iStock.com/kate_sept2004

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Movie Night

If your kids don’t fight, whine or complain, then they’ll get extra family movie nights in the coming weeks, and they can each pick the movie – and the takeout food you order for dinner – on their assigned night. Peace, people. It’s what this time of year is about.

Image ©iStock.com/Susan Chiang

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A Fun Surprise

If kids practice a random act of kindness of their choice to someone in the family and/or someone in need, they’ll receive a surprise random act of kindness from Mom or Dad in the next few weeks. (This might be a fun outing, like ice skating, a surprise playdate or sleepover with a bestie, or their favorite dessert.)

Image ©iStock.com/lcodacci

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Quiet Activity Supplies

If kids help entertain guests and make them feel comfortable and welcome, then they’ll get a new book or art materials to enjoy some quiet downtime and unwind after all that hectic activity. Think of something they’ve been really wanting that’s entertaining, yet calming. Win-win, all around.

Image ©iStock.com/ArtMarie

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A Free Pass for Post-Holiday Chores

If kids step up and make themselves helpful when they see you need a hand during the holiday week – whether it’s opening the door when you’re struggling with arms full of grocery bags, helping fold those 10-foot-tall piles of laundry, or mopping up a mess when someone spills – then they’ll get to skip their regular chores for a few days after the holiday as a reward (but they should still receive their allowance, if they get one).

Image ©iStock.com/Susan Chiang

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An Extra-Special Gift

If the kids by some miracle truly take on the spirit of Thanksgiving, by not demanding extra attention of their own and generally being good sports all around, then they’ll receive an extra gift as a thank-you to them (it can be given right after the holiday, or during the winter gift-giving holidays just ahead). Kids love getting gifts, of course, so this incentive is pretty golden. Make sure you note that it will be wrapped with a bow.

How do you encourage your kids to be good and helpful over the hectic holidays?

Lorraine Allen is a writer and mom to one spunky first grader and one squirrel-obsessed dog. You can follow their allergy-friendly cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.

Image ©iStock.com/noblige

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