It’s easy to believe that punishing children has many downsides. But what if I said rewarding and praising children is bad as well?
Like a yummy slice of chocolate cake, rewarding and praising children seems great at the time, but you’ll only see the consequences in the long run.
Passion gets stifled
Rewarding children trains them to focus solely on the reward. Even if they used to love an activity, they’ll come to view the activity as an unwanted obstacle for them to overcome in order to get their reward.
Along the way, their creativity and passion will die out. Rather than taking positive risks, children will do the bare minimum to achieve their prize. Why go for 90 marks in an exam, when the Nintendo is already awarded at 80 marks?
And when a child fails to meet the standards required for the reward, he’s already feeling upset that he didn’t perform well. On top of that, he’ll feel even unhappier, as though he’s being punished, when he’s denied the rewards and praise that’s he’s become so used to receiving.
Relationships get hurt
Oddly enough, saying things like “I know you can do it!” isn’t as encouraging to a child as you may think. By focusing on a child’s potential, you’re saying “You’re not good enough now, but work a little harder and I may love you more.” It’s clearly spelled out that the child is expected to do better next time, and the child won’t appreciate this.
Even a simple phrase like “Good boy!” can be damaging, as it puts the adult in a judgmental position. You’re telling the child that you are above him, better than him, and you will always ALWAYS be watching and evaluating not only what he’s doing, but how he’s doing as well. That causes a lot of pressure for the child, and creates a barrier between adult and child.
Nobody likes being manipulated
Children also see reward and praise as a way of manipulating them. Don’t think that just because they’re young, they don’t know what’s going on! And in addition to feeling controlled, they will also feel that their emotional well-being is being ignored.
For example, when a child refuses to get in a car, an adult may bribe him with a reward of ice-cream. While it may ultimately get the child in the car, it doesn’t address the underlying issue of why the child didn’t want to do it in the first place. Is he afraid of cars? Is something else upsetting him, like tiredness or hunger?
So if you don’t reward and praise children, what do you do? Is punishment the answer? Not if you’ve read Why Punishing Your Child Is Bad And What To Do Instead.
Can you think of any better ways of offering acknowledgment and positive feedback to children? Share your thoughts below, in the comments section.