Jamie Oliver: ‘It’s not your birthday, it’s not Christmas, you ain’t having it.’

Jamie Oliver gives his kids a big incentive to get them to learn about herbs.
Jamie Oliver gives his kids a big incentive to get them to learn about herbs. Photo: Supplied

As celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and wife Jools prepare for the arrival of their firth baby, the 41-year-old Dad has told Hello Magazine about his parenting philosophy.

If any of his children ask for a present, they have to earn it by doing something in return.

"I'll never forget when Poppy and Daisy said: 'Dad, we want a micro-scooter' and I said: 'It's not your birthday, it's not Christmas, you ain't having it'," Oliver said.   

Jamie and Jools Oliver in recently shared photos.
Jamie and Jools Oliver in recently shared photos.  Photo: Instagram

"I said: Look, learn all the herbs and I'll buy you a micro-scooter. They came back in an hour and said: 'Fennel, marjoram, thyme, orange thyme.' So I go: 'Now you have to do it blindfolded, by smell'.

"Hour later: 'Orange thyme, lemon thyme, lovage,' so then I'm like: 'Okay, okay!' I felt like I'd been done. If incentivised, kids are so clever."

I have to admit that I have used similar strategies with my own kids, although perhaps the incentives I have given have been quite low-key compared to the Oliver kids' $100 scooters.

And, while Oliver used an "incentive" to teach his kids about cooking, the same strategy works well in other situations. 

Amber, a mum-of-two says that she offered her school age kids $20 each if they learned to tie their own shoelaces.

"In one weekend we sat down and practiced lots. Once they had done it by themselves on a few school mornings I handed over the money," she explains.


"It was crazy money (to them) so they were super motivated."

Of course, when the thing you ask your kids to do in exchange for a treat or present isn't educational, it could be considered bribery.

Years ago at my sisters wedding, I told my then three-year-old that I would let her choose any toy she liked from the shops if she would put her shoes back on and pose for family photos.

It might not have been my best parenting, but it worked.

Similarly, lots of us use small treats to incentivise our kids through day-to-day challenges.

Toni, also a mum of two, says that she uses small treats quite regularly.

"Usually my son will do anything for chocolate," she says.

"Get dressed, swim, leave a soft play place, go to preschool."

I'm not sure how many of us would offer a treat for "learning about the herbs" but the principle is the same nonetheless.

Do you encourage your kids to learn by offering incentives? Leave your comment below.