Rewards And Consequences
Of The Same Coin
This post is part 2 in the discussion of rewards, the fourth of 4R’s in the series on Good Parenting and focuses on the natural law of cause and effect. What our kids do is a cause. Good parents will help them appreciate the effect.
You can find part 1 here.
Rewards Counterbalance Consequence
You can’t really develop a concept of rewards and ignore the reality of consequences. You also can’t overwork consequences and leave out rewards. Emphasizing either one to the neglect of the other isn’t honest or realistic. Life includes both. One effects the other. If we do away with one, rewards or consequences, life will have a permanent list.
Some parents reward their kids for anything, everything, for no reason at all, for nothing. Other parents do the same with consequences. One child thinks everyone is their debtor. The other thinks “punishment” is a way of life.
Extremes Make No Sense
One lady said her father spanked her and her siblings everyday when he got home from work only because he knew they had probably done something wrong. If he got home late, after they were in bed, he got them out of bed and spanked them then too.
One anti-reward thinker, Alfie Kohn, takes this thinking to its logical end and argues we should do away with grading school work. Also extreme!
If he’s right, why not do away with medals in the Olympics and trophies for championships? Why recognize heroes or hard work?
Cause And Effect
Some adults downplay their worth and expect little for their efforts because they were pushed to do a lot as children, without reward, only because it was the right thing to do, and they carried that same attitude into the rest of life.
Don’t get me wrong. Hard work produces a great sense of reward but only if the motivation is cultivated from within. People constantly hounded, harangued and forced into hard work, as if it were a punishment for being alive, gain little satisfaction from the experience.
A forced regimen of hard work in the early years, with no recognition for the effort other than the clothes on the back, food to eat and a roof over the head – begrudgingly provided – produces very little anticipation for life as an adult.
Slaves get all those things too – along with a heavy dose of consequences. What’s the difference?
Do your kids a favor. Teach them the law of cause and effect. Teach them to make an effort because it is the only way to make progress and progress, like it or not, is rewarding.
It may be more blessed to give than to receive but you can’t give anything until you first of all learn how to get.
The most reliable givers are the ones who learned the value of the things they do and expect an appropriate return for their efforts. There is a balance here. We should embrace it, not fear it.
The idea that any person only gives without getting is foolish and is promoted by people who haven’t thought very carefully about how life works, and who do nothing but repeat what they heard someone else say.
Don’t buy into that. Teach your kids the value of the efforts they make and to expect appropriate rewards for the things they do. Neither a consequence monger or rewards sally be.