Discipline and rewards: Addendum

I meant to clarify in the last post that I'm not flat-out against ever using rewards (although I know of some purists in the positive discipline camp who feel that way).  The big advantage rewards have, of course, is that they are useful in the short term when it comes to changing a particular behaviour; and, while in general parenting should be about taking the long view, the reality of life is that sometimes it's important to sort out a short-term problem.  Toilet training is the obvious example – it doesn't require our children to make complex moral choices and I think we'd all prefer it if they didn't develop a passionate interest in the subject, so, if sticker charts or the like give a child the motivation to get interested in developing this new habit, I say go for it.  So, rewards have their place as far as I'm concerned.  I just try to keep that place to a very minor one.



Filed under Deep Thought, Sacred hamburger

3 responses to “Discipline and rewards: Addendum

  1. Ruth

    good post. I agree that it’s good to give kids an internal moral compass and to get them to think through their own behaviour and choices, but I also think there is a place for learning manners/behaviour by rote too. It’s a bit like learning your times tables- good to know the principle of multiplication etc, but nice to just have the rote version in your head for ease of use. Having to think through every single action from first principles is a little exhausting- it’s nice when certain things are an instinctive habit- eg saying please and thank you etc. I also think there’s a place for a firm voice and a no, and not just when a child is in danger.

  2. HelenS

    I think of sticker charts for things like toilet training as more of a way of making progress visible to the child, not so much a reward. We used star charts to help our daughter stop sucking her thumb, and the thicker and thicker clusters of stars as she went through the month were a really good visual reinforcement for her.

  3. I have also heard (including from some people whose parenting outcomes leave, erm, something to be desired) that reward in the form of praise is dreadful and evil, and that children should not be praised for, for example, doing something nice for their sibling. That’s one of the reasons I think this “no reward” theory is a bit bonkers.

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