Yes, I am guilty of bribery, but I like to think of it as intelligent motivation on my part.
Each weekday I work with my son on his speech. Our therapist is wonderful and every time we go for a session she gives me tools to work with him at home. I also homeschool him through an online school in Colorado. His teacher there is fantastic and it so willing to work with me.
We spend hours each day going through mouth exercises, making sounds, doing flashcards, working on the computer, learning to read, and reading books. Some times, okay a lot of times, he'd rather play than work (what kid wouldn't?). So I've had to find a way to motivate him to keep working.
I've learned that if I use food to bribe him it works well. Amazing how fast he works through a lesson on the computer, correctly, when he has motivation. I've also found that letting him do activities he likes in between the things he needs to do works well. Doing a puzzle, playing an educational game on the iPad, or jumping on the trampoline all work for him. The key is finding what works each day.
Yesterday, after he completed an activity, the therapist set a timer and let him play with toys until the timer went off. Then it was back to work. She also uses mini M&Ms as motivation.
He's willing to work harder and longer when there's something he wants in the mix. And he's learning delayed gratification. So while it may sound like bribery, if it works to help him learn to speak and to do his schoolwork, then it can't be as bad as it sounds, right?