Many, many parents (and teachers) use a reward system. It starts very early on as an incentive to use the potty or to eat normal food. So very wrong!
While rewards may be a quick way to motivate students, it is important to stop and think, “What are students learning when they receive rewards?” Research has shown that rewards are not effective long-term and in fact can be harmful to students. The rewards become more important than the inner satisfaction of learning and contribution. – Dr Jane Nelsen
So let us start with eating and potty training – if we let children guide us and let them get to these two milestones when they are ready, we definitely DO NOT need a reward system. These are basic life skills which everyone learns if they want to live. Motivating through rewards such life skills can have consequences….like not really knowing when hungry or needing to use the loo. Like not knowing when we have eaten enough. Like feeling the need of approval to eat or use the bathroom. So much unhealthy habits can be formed through these!
When this is eventually introduced to the toddler, preschooler and school child as Dr Jane Nelsen above says it brings about that we do not work for our inner satisfaction but for the reward. Oh, I am sure you know a lot of people like that! The problem is this- whether adults or children the motivation is short lived. Once we get our first reward, we do not feel much the need to work so hard. It could also feel that it is not really important for us to get the reward but we get upset because we know it is important to our parents, teachers, carers or in the case of adults partners or work. We do therefore try hard to keep our motivation but we can not hence filling the child or adult with stress.
So, what other ways can you help motivate children into good behaviour?