Why That Reward May Not Work

PARENTING-PIX-12-3-16It is often said that a reward would make children do your bidding. And many parents could indeed testify that the promise of that token amount of money or piece of candy does motivate the child to work.

But come to think of it, does the child ever do the assignment to your satisfaction?

The answer is probably ‘no’, yet you give out the reward hoping that he would the job better in the future because he knows that he would be rewarded.

Many parents find themselves in situations such as this and I will use the example of a mother I observe often with her children. Promise (not real name) is one of her three children and the only daughter. She wants to give her the best education, she always says and she is known to take the decision seriously.

“Promise, have you done your homework?” She would ask her daughter. A very playful girl, she would pretend to be upset at being interrupted and then demands for the N100 the mother promised so she could buy a plate of Malam’s noodle.

My friend, I know, wants to be firm with the girl but having started with promises of gifts if or when she does her school’s work, it has become difficult to change her style of making her do any work without a benefit attached at all.

So her response is always: “Finish your work first.” But I always see a woman who I think is confused as to what to do. And I know that she is not happy about it.

But what nine-year-old Promise needed to hear was that her effort would pay instantly as she rushes off and comes back within the hour and pushes her exercise book under her mother’s nose.

She shows her work with a grunt, which I understand to mean that even she knows that she has not put in her best; I have never seen her school’s report card but I am convinced from what I see of her that she is no model pupil.

One would, therefore, say that parents could reward their offspring but to give them sparingly and give it absolutely when the child has earned it. The reward should be accompanied with a verbal praise and a hug while you show the young one what he has done to merit all these.

Remember that the hallmark of any human being is the natural desire to learn because they are curious about what goes on around them and your child is not different. I have known a little boy who could not withstand the swish of a mop and would cry until he has been allowed to clean a floor, which he did very well too. He did not expect anything; he was not given anything at the end, he was happy to try his hands at what he sees the adults around him do.

Even as any parents whose method is “reward, promise something” know that they do so because it is easier that way to get their children to work, but psychologists confirm that it is lazy parenting. A research was done on the subject once and the conclusion was that you bring your child down to the level of an animal that you have to entice with the carrot-and-stick method when you do it all the time. It works on beasts, who desire only to please, but children have brains and they think.

Done often, therefore, they begin to think of what they have to gain instead of doing the work. In the study, a class of nursery age children were divided into three groups, one- third was asked to draw a picture with a promise of a reward; they did the work fast, but they found the result less creative, too simple and without inspiration.. They wanted the result more than doing it well.

The second group had a gift, which they had not expected while the other got nothing at all.
Finally, the whole class was asked to do the same assignment without the promise of a reward, while the second and the third group was happy to try their hands once again, the first group lost interest.

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