Which is better: reward or punishment? Neither

To punish or to reward – how to make a difficult choice, if the child has become unmanageable? Why not just 4 steps and tips that will help influence behavior.

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Heather Turgeon

“Always, when it’s time to put my son to sleep, I feel fear,” said one father in a family therapeutic session, zhivopisuya the work of the son before bedtime. The child became uncontrollable, barely it came to that, it’s time to sleep, he stubbornly ignored all the instructions parents and was crying from the mention of pajamas. Parents just didn’t know what to do.

They asked a question that we often hear in sessions, whether they are strictly to stop him and leave without the TV on when he behaves this way (punishment)? Or you need to try to appease him, promising stickers and prizes for good behavior (the reward)?

Many parents themselves were punished in childhood, and therefore they expect that punishment will help. But in fact, punishment will only exacerbate the conflict and close the path to learning.

They evoke the reaction of “fight or flight” when in the prefrontal cortex of the brain that complex behavioral functions, and the ability to think, increases the activity and the main protective mechanisms come into effect. The danger of punishment makes us, or to rebel, to feel shame, anger and suppress your feelings or to figure out how not to get caught. In General, your four-year-old will be fully prepared.

So correct reward?

Not so fast. Award – cowardly kind of punishment. Families quite reasonably consider awards a tempting option, because they can be used to instantly restrain the child. But over time the effect may disappear or even turn against you. One client told us that once, when he asked the daughter to clean the room, she asked: “How much will I get for it?”.

Decades psychologists say that the promise of reward lessens our natural motivation and pleasure from the done work. For example, when children who like to draw on the condition of the experiment, paid for it, they drew less than those children who did not promise to pay. Psychologists call this “the effect of sverhpredelna” – the award overshadows the intrinsic motivation of the child.

The promise of reward reduces creativity. In one study people were given a few items (a box of buttons, a candle and matchbox) and asked to figure out how to attach the candle to the wall. The solution demanded an innovative approach: it was necessary to consider the submitted materials, regardless of their primary function (e.g., a box as a candle holder).

People who are promised a reward for solving problems, it took on average more time to complete the task. The reward narrows the vision of the field of our activities. Our brains no longer work freely. We stop to think deeply and to see the possibilities.

The concept of punishments and rewards is based on initially incorrect understanding that children should be controlled and formed, and that they have no good intentions. But we can look at children and see what they are gifted, caring, good comrades and hard-working. Then we start to talk differently with children.

Rewards and punishment are conditional, but our love and good will to children should be unconditional. In fact, if we turn to him kindly and really ready to listen to them, our children are ready to listen.

1. Look deeper

No reason children don’t hit their siblings, do not ignore your parents and throw tantrums in the store. If we’re trying to figure out what’s really going on, our involvement will really be useful. Even your attempt to see what lies behind their bad behavior, makes children more open and willing to talk, acceptance of rules and restrictions and flexible in solving problems.

Instead say: Be kind and share with one another or in the evening no TV

Say, Uh, you’re not allowed to play other your designer. I understand. At first it is difficult to share, and you’re a little mad. Can you figure out how you can play designer together? Let me know if you need my help.

Crying, resistance, and physical aggression may only be the tip of the iceberg. And at the bottom can be hunger, lack of sleep, overwork, work on skills development or problem is being in a new environment. If you look at the situation from this side, you become a partner who will guide, not an adversary, which only controls.

2. Motivation is the reward

Motivation is a great thing, when its main message is: “I trust you and believe you want to cooperate and help. We are a team”. Here a slight difference from lure reward, but the impact is more significant.

Instead say: If you clean your room, we’ll go to the Park. Better clean that or no Park.

Tell me: When your room is clean, we go to the Park. I can’t wait. Let me know if you need help.

3. Help instead of punishment

The idea of punishment conveys the message “I should make you suffer for what you did.” Many parents really don’t would like to lay it is this sense of punishment, but they also would not want to expose themselves too weak. The good news is that you can keep boundaries and to guide children without punishment.

Instead say: You can’t play on the slide and therefore you will be punished. How many times can you repeat that?

Say: I see that you too played out and rowdy. I’m going to get you off this roller coaster, because to play safe. Let’s get some rest.

Instead say: You were rude to me and used swear words. This is unacceptable. I’m taking your phone.

Say: Wow, you are really very angry. I can hear it. But it is bad that you use these words in conversation with me. Now we abirem your phone to get you clear in the head. When you’re ready, tell me what’s bothering you. We’ll figure out what to do together.

4. Engage internal hard worker

People are not lazy by nature (this is not an adaptive trait), especially for children. We love to work hard, if you feel part of the team. Small children want to be useful members of the family, and they like to help if they know that their contribution has value and not simply window dressing. Let them help really from early childhood, instead of trying to give them something while doing housework.

Daily collect a family Council to decide what tasks need to be done today. Talk to each family member, let them offer their ideas. Make a plan for children (or let them do themselves), so they can put in notes when the task is done.

And if you go back to history, when the child does not want to go to bed, I’ve got parents to look at the other side of the iceberg, as they have made progress. First, it turned out that the boy was too tired in the evening, and parents canceled some of the planned activities and leave more free time for the evening. When he started to wind up, mom wrapped it in a towel and said it was her “favorite sandwiches”.

She acknowledged that it was hard when she had to work late: “I guess you were sad that I wasn’t there for the last few weeks when you were asleep. Hey, today let’s honor the night our favorite book?”. They made a plan in which he listed all his classes for the day and asked him to contribute.

Over time it ceased to resist, and before I go to sleep was to evoke joy, not fear.

No matter how bad or difficult you didn’t seem like the situation, you can always tell your child: “I see you. I’m here to understand and help. I’m on your side. We’ll figure this out together.”


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