*Parenting Talk* Children and Behaviour

I was reading a great article over at Urban Moms written by Erin Little entitled Raising Sophie & Fiona.

The article discusses Erin’s take on parenting with regards to discipline in particular. I found myself engrossed in self reflection after reading this article and wanted to share some of my thoughts. I realize that this can be a personal topic for discussion and I want to be clear that I do not pass any judgement on anyone’s parenting choices.

Erin’s specific belief is that rewards don’t work and that they are short term fix. She also believes that people should be intrinsically motivated. Erin makes many other points during her well written article, but those two are the ones that really got me thinking about my parenting style and beliefs.

As a former teacher myself (I taught Kindergarten), I have seen first hand what too many rewards offered for positive behvaviour can do. It can create an expectation and in turn, children end up acting in a certain way, not because they want to or think that it is best, but only because that is what the teacher expects. They can also very quickly begin to fall into the bad mentality of “what do I get if I do this” attitude. This scares me and because I have seen it happen first hand, I certainly don’t want it to happen to my children.

Here are some of my beliefs on children, their behaviour and parenting: Note: This is just my opinion, I am NOT stating this as fact or that everyone should feel this way. I am also not stating any of these points in response to Erin’s article.

  • Parents are human beings.
  • Parents have the right to change their minds on their parenting techniques over time.
  • There can be a very fine line between rewarding behaviour and bribing.
  • Sometimes we all need to take the easy way out and that is ok.
  • Every child is unique and therefore may respond differently to certain parenting styles.
  • What works for one child may not work for the next.
  • Fair does not always mean equal.
  • Natural consequences work really well.


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20 Responses to *Parenting Talk* Children and Behaviour

  1. Hmm, this does have me thinking. My wife a I have tried hard to limit rewards – and certainly we more often praise than give a physical gift – but we find ourselves giving in more and more as she gets older. Thanks for the heads up on the article!

  2. As a mom of four kids, it is so true that parenting techniques differ with each child. We raise them all the same way, with the same morals but disciplining them the same way does not always work. Love your post!

  3. Oh, this is a toughie. It’s something that hubby and I disagree on. As an only child he was given new toys EVERY week. Raised in a low income family with three kids, my childhood was far different. He really things tangible rewards in the form of toys are the key to a happy well behaved kid. I’m winning the argument so far, but it just keeps coming back up.

  4. Sheri says:

    I believe in giving rewards, but I don’t mean “things”. I think that children should be rewarded for good behaviour with praise and time. Giving “things” for positive behaviour doesn’t really teach anything.

    Great points!

  5. C says:

    Wow! Great post! Lots of food for thought! This is something I’ve been thinking about too. No one ever told me how challenging it would be to be a parent 🙂 I do believe in rewards, but like other people have said here, not material rewards. Occasionally, I’ll give my little one a treat if she’s done something remarkably well (like potty training, for instance). Otherwise, I give her praise for accomplishing something or helping me with something.

    Thanks for sharing this post!

  6. •Fair does not always mean equal.
    this is a really good point. we struggle with this having 3 kids. it’s definitley something I will keep with me going forward.

  7. Jennifer L says:

    Great post! It is very true what works for one child doesn’t always work for another. I am also believe that children can expect rewards and therefore we use positive reinforcement in forms of hugs, words high fives etc.

  8. Ms. Key says:

    Yay, “Fairness Isn’t Sameness” (fair doesn’t always mean equal) is one of my FAVOURITE sayings! As you know, haha.

    I’m not a parent, but I am an elementary school teacher. Totally agree that tangible rewards are NOT what it’s all about. I don’t use the same strategies that some of my co-workers use for classroom management, and yet I have some great behaviours in my classrooms. Now, sometimes CERTAIN kids NEED an extrinsic reward to motivate them (until it can be transfered to intrinsic), but I will do that on a case-by-case need with an individualized sticker chart on their desk (and the reward is not a “prize” other than a new pencil or eraser – ha, useful for schooool OR time on the computer).

    I do use one class point system, with magnets on the whiteboard… 10 points does equal a prize (but that prize is usually outdoor time, which is really physical education – ha, once again!). I RARELY add any points to the class point system. I use it ONLY when I have a very specific behaviour I need the whole group to do (such as a bit of training for walking quietly in the hall or listening through announcements). I never give out points in any routine way (so they don’t learn to expect them). I also often say, “You did a wonderful job, take a FEEL GOOD MOMENT” — I say this the most. This is teaching them intrinsic motivation. I’m acknowledging the behaviour, but in a way that teaches them just to feel good about it!

    If they ever ASK me for a class point, I especially say, “Oh no, but take a FEEL GOOD MOMENT instead! You did great.” This way, they really don’t rely on the physical reward.

    I’ve been with my kids for 4 months, they achieved 10 class points only ONCE… and they are SUPER well-behaved. It’s in my back pocket for rainy days, but I try to VERY RARELY motivate them that way. And my system hasn’t failed me yet!

    This comment is now a novel. I might use this as a topic for my next KahootKids post! Thanks for that idea…. LOL.

  9. NPC says:

    Love this post. I agree that too much reward can be a bad thing. But, you made some great points.

  10. We do have the expectation problem here sometimes, great info, thanks!

  11. hmm! interesting post! I agree.

    (sorry, i’m short-worded today..need more coffee)

  12. I like that fair does not always mean equal – as are children grow there are going to be situations where everything is not always “equal”, but they need to learn that it may still be fair.
    And I also love the natural consequences point – we try to use those in our home as well.
    -sass

  13. I have a very similar approach to parenting. We try and remain as fair as possible, but with 3 kids with very different needs and personalities, sometimes things that work for one child may not work for another. I do use rewards, but not all the time. I do not like a child to expect to “get” something for behaving the way that they should. Thanks for a great post! -SASS

  14. I do a bit of everything. Rewards, punishments {time outs} and positive reinforcement… but the most important thing I always remember… is that each child is different. Each on of my kiddos takes a different approach. There is no cookie cutter way to parent! -SASS

  15. These are some very interesting points. I use rewards in my house way too much!

  16. I have to agree with you on this! Rewards are not always the answer. IMO, I truly believe we have and are raising children you feel entitled. “If you don’t give me something, I won’t do it” or “I deserve something even though I didn’t earn it” I’m not a believer in for example handing out ribbons to everyone in the race. It may make those that in last feel beeter but what about those that worked hard to come in first? Will they bother next time”

  17. Katrina Brady says:

    Forgot to post SASS at the end LOL sorry

  18. CanadianMama says:

    I totally agree! Natural and logical consequences really are the best. But a little chocolate ball thrown my way always makes me a little sweeter 🙂 SASS!

  19. ~*Cee*~ says:

    I have a hard time with this. We’re at a stage with our girl that’s really tough – she won’t listen long enough to make it look like she understands our “consequences”. She just throws a tantrum which ultimately results in her going to her room for some ‘alone time’. She’s also an only child and was a preemie and I’m often filled with guilt (& tend to spoil her). The three’s are difficult – but we’re all learning I guess… {SASS}

  20. LaVonne L. says:

    Thanks for posting this. Parenting is such a hard job. It is difficult to figure out how to get your kids to do what you want them too. I like your advice at the end though.

    I am visiting tonight from the SASS hop. I hope your week is great!

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