Pay for Good Behavior and Good Results
Parents teach children by offering rewards to encourage desirable behavior
and punishment to discourage undesirable behavior. Rewards are offered as
positive reinforcements to desirable behaviors. Conditioning strengthens
goal-directed behavior. The rigorous application of conditioning is common in
organizations that depend on routines, repetitious work and compliance with a
strict social order. In contrast, the sense of freedom thrives when conditioning
is minimal and individual choice is encouraged.
Brain maturation is gradual process that leads to increasing ability to make
better choices. Maturation requires changes in brain function that depends in
part on learning. Adults are usually better at making choices and must guide
their children for many years.
Three vital needs of children can be encouraged with one strategy – pay for
good results and good behavior. The first need is to be taught to do the right
things and to be rewarded for the effort. Children need to be taught
task-oriented planning and scheduling.
Children need to be taught about money, especially the relationship between
task accomplishment and monetary reward.
Task and rewards should be well defined and include a schedule. The emphasis
is reward, but reasonable fines can levied occasionally for failure to complete
tasks and specific rule infractions. A child who fails often needs help, not
punishment. Parents can define routine care that comes free with the home and
describe all extras as “privileges” that are earned. All money received by
children is earned, except for gifts on special occasions.
Family tokens can replace real money. Tokens represent real value and can be
exchanged for a variety of rewards. Parents can be inventive in their rewards
systems and can learn about their own evaluations and motivations by interacting
with their children.
I like the token system, since you can be more flexible with rewards,
including value exchanges that are independent of money. Children in a family
can develop their own economy by exchanging tokens for services they render to
each other. A sister might earn 5 tokens for clearing the kitchen after dinner
and offer her brother 3 tokens for helping her with a math assignment. As
with commercial point motivation systems, the family can have a catalogue of
rewards when enough tokens are earned. Obviously, rewards should be
appropriate to age and ability. Younger children should have their own tokens
and their own catalogue of rewards.