Bribe Kids
Reporter: Jackie Quist

The very mention of withholding wages means the Cole children are soon hard at work.

It's Friday -- pay day -- $5 each for Ashley and Charlie aged 6 and 7; sweeter currency for preschoolers Billie and Darcey. Their mum Lisa's terms are non negotiable "With four kids I had to do something. I had to create something in my life because I'd end up running around doing everything", she said.

Call it bribery or economic rationalism, Lisa claims her reward system has resulted in a happier household, all but eliminating the usual nagging for chores to be finished.

"The respond to incentives, they respond to things they can see, and if you can set the prices and rewards right, you might be able to get the behaviour you want", said Joshua Gans.

Joshua is an economics Professor at Melbourne University. He is also a father and author of a new parenting book/ "We use in our household a points system. If you keep your room clean you get a point, and then eventually enough points accumulate and we might have a special meal McDonalds or something like tha. Its a way of just getting in good habit accounting", he said.

At age 5 Tamekah McDonald loves being bribed. A tough negotiator, she now tries to rort the system. "It's getting to the point where I've nearly got to bribe her for everything", said Tamekah's mum, Leanne.

"We've been having a few chats about this, that it can't keep going on that you have to behave and do things just for yourself. We're getting there, we're getting there -- it's slow -- but we're getting there", Leanne said.

One could only imagine the amount of bribery that's going on at the Royal Melbourne Show. With four dozen rides and 350 show bags to choose from, there's plenty of powerful incentives to elicit good behaviour.

"I don't think it works very well at all. I think applying economic principles to parenting is a recipe for disaster", said adolescent psychologist, Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg.

"If you want behaviour to occur on a regular basis, what you do is reward it with praise, hugs and cuddles. If you want behaviour to cease, what you do is you use timeout. What lessons are you teaching children long term that basically, they will only do the right thing if they get a reward for it? Society would basically fall apart, you'd have anarchy, if that was the principle", he added.

But, for the Cole family though there's no going back. Lisa's now added a new incentive. "I've put in place something at the end of the year that ties in with their effort at school, like getting an MP3 Player, as a special, no attachments. They get that if their school report reflects their effort", Lisa says.