Saturday, April 16, 2016

Day 2: Rewarding Good Behaviour?

Parenting is filled with constant choices and so many perspectives. One choice being allowances and rewarding good behaviour. I am still uncertain as to where I sit on this one, however, my husband is 100% in support of a reward system. I thought it was worth a shot so we laid out some guidelines and let our boys choose a reward to work towards. After nearly two months, this is is what happened:

After a quick search on "rewarding good behaviour" I came across this statement:
We give our children ice-cream if they're "good", chocolate if they're quiet, little gold stars if they eat their greens, maybe even money if they get good marks at school. We praise them with a "good boy!" or "good girl!" if they do something that pleases us. For the modern and discerning parent, the hitting-and-shaming method of "discipline" is passé. Punishment is out, and rewards are in. Why use the stick, when we can better teach a child by using a carrot? (Source: The Natural Child Project)

Although I am a firm believer in positive parenting methods, I would suggest we are far from the strict reward referenced above... and this article goes on to highlight just that with a perfect example:
Here is a good illustration of why we made the mistake of believing in rewards, based on benefits that appear on the surface. When an American fast-food company offered food prizes to children for every book they read, reading rates soared. This certainly looked encouraging - at first glance. On closer inspection, however, it was demonstrated that the children were selecting shorter books, and that their comprehension test-scores plummeted.  (Source: The Natural Child Project)

With this in the back of our minds, we rolled out a reward system with standards: we established a minimum standard for acceptable behaviour and execution of responsibilities - yes, I am referencing my 3 year old as well - and then establish set items that we felt were significantly above that standard. We then, at an unspecified time, agreed to recognize our children's behaviour with the surprise - again, see video. (Feel free to watch a few times if you like. :) ).  On a practical/specific level here is what we established for our children:

6 year old (with developmental delays):

Minimum:
  • Get dressed promptly
  • Maintain a relatively organized room
  • Consistently clean up after himself
  • Work collaboratively to set table for dinner
  • Always clear table after dinner
  • Activity participate in school - and the activities he asked to enroll in: swim lessons, piano, choir
  • Practice piano 
Additional responsibilities which will then become the minimum as he ages:
  • Take out recycling
  • Feed the dog 
  • Take the dog out/let her in as she alerts
  • Put away laundry
  • Put dishes away
3 year old:

Minimum:
  • Respectful communication & use of manners
  • Eye contact
  • Maintain a relatively organized room
  • Consistantly clean up after himself
  •  Work collaboratively to set table for dinner
  • Always clear table after dinner
Additional responsibilities:
  • Feed the dog
  • Help with putting dishes away 
  • Help with putting laundry away
  • Help with taking out the recycling
We are already seeing the evolution of these items - in particiular with recycling. Both boys take great pride in sorted everything.... we will see how things continue, in the meantime feel free to share your thoughts on reward systems and/or the responsibilities you expect of your children in the comments below.