Rewards or Consequences

Growing YearsShould children be rewarded for good behavior? Positive reinforcement is one method employed to gain positive behavior. Rewards can have positive outcomes. Complements are always good extrinsic rewards, but rewards for good behavior cannot keep pace with your child’s changing wants.

This system almost never works with middle school and high school aged children. When extrinsic rewards are removed, the behavior you want to maintain doesn’t always stay. In real life, we are not rewarded for being good citizens. We don’t receive gift certificates for not speeding or obeying any other laws. In real life, we do the things we do because they are simply the right thing to do, or that not doing them would have a consequence.

What we should be teaching is that actions have consequences. Good actions have good consequences, while bad actions reap bad consequences. Virtue is its own reward and should make us feel good about ourselves.

When my children were young, I did not pay them for good grades. Their grades were a positive consequences of good study and work habits, and they should feel very proud of them. I taught them that any task worth doing was worth doing well. However, I did express to them how proud I was that they did their best.

If you are to get your child ready for his or her future, you must teach the concept of actions and consequences. A good way to start this is to apply natural consequences for bad actions. This will help your child learn how to make good choices, a skill necessary in adult life.