Did your parents use the reward-punishment system on you? Do you plan on using the same system for your kids? You should now that different studies have been made on it since when you were little. Some argue that the reward system only lessens the innate ability of people to do good things in the future. They say that if kids do only good things because they are rewarded for them, then they won’t innately want to do it in the future when they can already reward themselves with what they want even without doing anything good. And yet, some arguments point out that good behavior becomes a routine. Eventually, it becomes part of who they are.
What do you think? Which side are you on? Try an experiment with your kids. The next time you have to go to the pediatric dentist, tell them that they are going to receive a reward if they don’t throw a tantrum. See how they react. The reward system doesn’t usually apply to kids below two years old because they still don’t have a concept of what’s a reward and punishment. Kids two years and above have a better grasp that their actions have consequences and vice versa.
It’s important to take note that when you punish your kids, they shouldn’t feel scared or afraid of you. They should feel bored and uninterested. Some examples are making them sit at one corner of the room with nothing to do and taking away their favorite toy in the meantime. You should never humiliate them, physically hurt them, or lock them in a room by themselves. They will feel fear, but they won’t understand why they should never have that bad behavior again.
Reward Right Away
Once they do something good, give the reward right away. They’ll be able to know that these two actions are connected. If you want to collect their good deeds, then give them a star or mark a whiteboard to show them that they’ve collected the points. Reward them during weekends when they can best enjoy it with you.
Track One Behavior at a Time
It can get confusing for kids to track which behavior you want them to continue doing. Track it one at a time. For example, reward them for brushing their teeth consistently this week. Next, reward them for helping their younger siblings with their homework. Then, reward them for not whining during a visit to the doctor.
Once a type of behavior is no longer a problem, target another one. Stop rewarding the behavior once they’re doing it consistently. This might reinforce the belief that they have to be always rewarded for doing good.
Give Plenty of Praise
Your kids love to receive positive encouragement from you. Use your words and heap praise on them. Words such as “good,” “great,” and “nice” are motivation enough for them to please you. Remind them about the reward system, too, so that they can look forward to it.
But do not use the reward as a bribe. Offer the reward only after a good deed has been done. Don’t offer it so that your kids are forced to do something good. That defeats the purpose of teaching them that doing good should come naturally.