Thursday, July 29, 2010

Earning Gold Stars

Some parents swear by a rewards system, while others feel it undercuts building healthier motivations in your kids. I wish we could be more philosophically pure and be like the latter, but we find ourselves more like the former. What can I say, our kids respond to being able to get stuff.

One thing that is nice about a rewards system is that it gives ample opportunity to give positive reinforcement. That is, the motivator is not just "if I get 15 stickers, I get that doll I want," but the good feeling you get when being praised 15 different times by your parents. Even better when you can do that in front of others, so they can join in the praising. It serves a helpful feedback mechanism, too, since when we praise them for doing a sticker-worthy action, we tell them exactly what it is that was good, in the hopes that they will learn what are good behaviors and want to repeat them. (Finally, in our kids' case, it helps that they really like the stickers themselves, and revel in picking them out when they earn one.) Maybe a rewards system isn't so mercenary after all.

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