Should Parents Reward Their Children?
For many years theres been a debate about
rewarding our children. Does it work? Is it
effective? If so, what kind of rewards should be
To use rewards, we establish a standard with our
kids and give them something for meeting this
standard. Punishment is given out in much the same
way, but its used when certain standards of
performance, behavior, etc. have not been met.
The problem here is not that rewards and
punishments dont have immediate results. They
often do have quick results. Kids often will become
more obedient when threatened with punishment, and
work hard when promised a valuable reward.
The problem is what happens when you arent
To develop responsible, self-disciplined kids,
parents need to promote certain ideas. One of these
ideas is that everyone pitches in and helps in your
family, even if youre not crazy about
Another idea is that there can be enjoyment in
doing any task if we choose to make it so. When a
task is for a worthy cause (our family can enjoy
the house more because I helped clean it), and when
parents are cheerful about their chores, this
message can have a big impact.
This is how we help our kids develop an
intrinsic sense of responsibility. When our
children develop this responsibility, theyll
be more disciplined, and theyll control their
emotions better. When we give rewards to our kids,
we reduce this intrinsic sense of responsibility.
We also create children who may temporarily perform
to a certain standard, but who arent likely
to continue the performance without the carrot
dangling in front of them. These kinds of values
must come from inside them.
In his book, Punished by Rewards (1993), author
Alfie Kohn writes, But if we are ultimately
concerned with the kind of people our children will
become, there are no shortcuts. Good values have to
be grown from the inside out. Rewards and
punishment can change behavior (for a while), but
they cannot change the person who engages in the
behavior, at least in the way we want. No
behavioral manipulation ever helped a child develop
a commitment to become a caring and responsible
person. No reward for doing something we approve of
ever gave a child a reason for continuing to act
that way when there was no longer any reward to be
gained for doing so.
Here are some action steps for parents
Look at how you are doing or not doing
rewards now. Are you promising candy for behaving
well at grandmas house? Even the smallest
rewards now can set the table for bigger
expectations by your kids in the future.
Start giving your kids tasks that they
can be responsible for at a very early age. Treat
them as thought theyre capable, and be
consistent. This is the best way to avoid future
chore conflicts in your family.
Talk often about how you are a family
that works together and cooperates with each other
in order to complete the tasks that need to be
Use subtle rewards with your kids.
As soon as you clean up you can go to
grandmas, can work very well. If you
clean up Ill give you some candy, will
usually end up biting you in the rear later on.
Parents can help give their children a sense of
shared responsibility and discipline which can last
a lifetime. And they can give them a sense of
entitlement which may last a lifetime as well. The
real rewards that your children receive will be
their readiness for the complex and demanding world
that awaits them-- a world that rewards those who
have learned the secrets of discipline
So keep those shiny carrots to yourself, and let
your kids find their own rewards.
© 2008 Mark
Other Father Issues,
* * *
To this day I can remember my father's
voice, singing over me in the stillness of the
night. - Carl G. Jung
a Masters degree in counseling psychology and has
been a counselor, business consultant, sports
counselor, and a certified life and business coach.
He has worked with individuals, teams, and
businesses to improve their performance for over 20
years. Prior to life and business coaching Mark was
a world-ranked professional tennis player and has
coached other world-ranked athletes. He has helped
hundreds of individuals to implement his coaching
techniques. Mark specializes in coaching men to
balance their lives and to improve the important
relationships in their lives. He is the author of
the popular e-books, 25
Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent
Your Wife in 30 Days or Less (And Improve Yourself
at the Same Time
Mark is also the publisher of the Dads
Dont Fix your Kids ezine for fathers.
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