The Day Diary
Bribery, used accordingly, can be a very potent weapon with young children.
Frankie understands such wheelin’ and dealin’ very well at this stage, and Éamon is getting the hang of it too.
We keep sweet things to a minimum in the house, but they are often given as gifts by relatives. Anytime they are, we make the most of them. “If you eat all your dinner, then you can have ‘something nice’,” we advise them.
Frankie and Éamon can take up to an hour some days eating their dinner. Unfortunately it is not a case of just leaving them at the table for an hour and letting nature take its course.
They are up and down like jack-in-the-boxes and need constant cajoling to go back and finish their dinner. A reward, or a bribe, call it what you want, can be a great accelerant.
You might even get them to eat their dinner in half an hour at the promise of ‘something nice’. It might be a taste of the chocolate a nanny or auntie sent them or a rich tea biscuit. Fruit works as a treat after lunch too. They have much to learn!
Occasions allow for more horse trading.
“You can have some of Mammy’s birthday cake after you eat your dinner.” That worked a charm.
The arrival of Santa Claus and his naughty-and-nice lists worked a dream with Frankie in December.
In the past few weeks, the Easter Bunny has been called into action several times.
Frankie is back at naíonra since the beginning of the month. Frankie is in her element being back with her friends and was awfully disappointed to hear it would be closed for the Easter. She may not been the only one!
So impending tears were offset by talk of the Easter Bunny and all the little Easter eggs he (or is it a she? I’m not sure) was going to leave around the garden for Frankie and Éamon.
Frankie was made up, but not before she told me the Easter Bunny must leave some Easter eggs for baby Séimí too ‘to eat when he gets bigger’. So Mr/Mrs Bunny, you’ve been warned, there are three kids here now.
The harsh reality that the Easter Bunny may not come if Frankie and Éamon have not been good has been explained a few times when trouble is about to erupt. It has tended to work quite well too.
Of course what Frankie and Éamon don’t know is that when they are gone to bed, Mammy and Daddy might occasionally have quality tested some Easter eggs – the three for €3 deal is impossible to ignore in fairness.
On Sunday, they got their own little hands on Easter eggs at last, after a busy and very exciting hunt around the garden.
And they each got a little Easter egg after they devoured their dinner. Time will tell now how many more full dinners we will get them to eat off those trade-offs!
In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.
The Day Diary