Is Rewarding Kids a Bad Idea?

Tuesday March 19, 2013

By Amy Morin

I'm always struck when parents, and sometimes even professionals, say you shouldn't reward kids. I've even heard caregivers say, "Kids aren't seals. You shouldn't try to train them." Well believe it or not, we live in a society that is largely based on rewards.

Ever wonder why hotel chains offer points? Or why credit cards offer cash back? They want to reward you for using their services. And guess what? It works with many people.

Obviously, most adults go to work to earn a pay check. That's a reward. Gambling is another example. People press a button at a slot machine over and over hoping to win a little money, which provides them with enough positive reinforcement to press the button again.

Rewards aren't always tangible. It's likely you get some intrinsic rewards when you've done good work. Or maybe you earn some praise from your partner or if you're lucky, maybe even your boss.

No, we don't need to treat children like seals. But we should be giving them rewards to motivate them to keep up the good work. Behavior modification isn't just for animals. It works on us too.


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