Saturday, 1 November 2014

External rewards cripple your child! Shy away from stickers and stars...

Giving rewards to children for getting them to do good work has a very short- term effect on their performance. When you attach a reward to a task, the ‘feel good’ factor of the completion of the task per se gets lost. Also, the children don’t get ‘intrinsically motivated’ to do the task, which in turn goes against their inclination to be independent and lifelong learners.

The novelty of getting a sticker, a treat, T.V. time or the like, makes the children dependent on an external agent to motivate them at all times. Compare the two scenarios… in the first instance, the teacher/parent gives a writing assignment to the children and says, ‘If you finish this on time, you will earn a star’. The children will do the task to earn the reward and not because they want to and feel like writing a good essay. In the second instance, a teacher/ parent gives a writing assignment to the children and lets them do their best. When they are done, s/he gives feedback to the children regarding their work and offers specific and ‘genuine’ praises and appreciation for their work, for example, ‘I like the way you have started the introductory paragraph’, ‘this reminds me of the time when I was traveling’, ‘I like how you used a different word for happy’, etc. or reads their essay out loud to the class and then puts it up on the board. Statements like these are motivators and have better and longer lasting effects on children's future performance. 

Once you have motivated the children from within to yield good work in this manner, you will see that you have not only made so many things easier for yourself but also have given them the wings to achieve greater heights. Think about it yourself, wouldn't you rather be genuinely appreciated than be superficially rewarded for your performance? What would work better on your psyche?

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  1. Thanks Erdogan Cesmeli for sharing ... "My ultimate reference on this is the book Drive by Dan Pink"

  2. Lovely write up with simplicity and well explained parenting skills