Are rewards any better than punishments?
Parent says,” If you come first in class we will get you a cycle. OR If you do not fight with your brother I will give you a chocolate.”
Child thinks,” So let me study until I get the cycle and then I don’t need to. What happens if I do not come first, maybe I will have to copy.
OR I will be nice to him until I get the chocolate and even if I fight with my brother I will make sure my father and mother are not there!”
Doesn’t this sound familiar? We often resort to rewarding children in the hope of motivating or changing their behavior. We, parents might be shocked to know what the children are actually thinking! So we need to ask ourselves:
- Do rewards help our children do the right things for the right reasons?
- Will our children study with genuine interest to learn or only to get the cycle? What if, the grades are not good despite putting in all the effort ? Will he then feel punished by not getting the reward?
- Do the rewards then grow bigger as the children grow older?
- How do rewards affect sibling relationships-when one child gets a reward and the other, despite all her efforts, does not?
It is very crucial for us as parents to think through these questions when we choose to use rewards. Rewards are what we give conditionally - gifts, stars, smiley stickers for good behavior, praise, bribes. We are raising children by bribing them to wake up, brush teeth, get ready on time, eat their vegetables, finish homework etc.
Parents want the best for their children but by rewarding we are nullifying the child’s desire to learn! Wouldn’t we want our children to do the right things for the right reasons rather than the enticement of a sweet?
This show was aired on 104.8 FM on Wednesday, 20th January 2016