Rewarding Kids For Not Cussing?


IMG_0548There was a post Mom Connect requesting advice on how to get her 6yo to stop interrupting her while on the phone. I ran across the tweet and went to check it out.

One of the replies was to reward them for not interrupting. i.e. give them stickers or a prize, etc. This riled me up a bit after I thought about it. So I replied.

I used this tip from a mom who also found success. It is not a reward for not misbehaving, it is a consequence for inappropriate behavior. There are pros & cons to both, but I strongly disagree that we should reward kids for not misbehaving for general everyday activities. That’s like giving them a reward for not cussing. They begin to expect rewards for just being nice and doing the right thing. It can backfire later on in life, but that’s just my opinion. A 6 yr old is old enough to know better. This is a matter of doing it because they get away with it.

It’s a quick and easy rule: If you interrupt me on the phone, the answer will be no. Unless it is an emergency (i.e. injury, fire, etc). That’s it. It didn’t take my kids long to catch on and they are 4 yr b/g twins. It deters 80% of the “Mom, I want a….” “Mom, can I….” “Mom, can u…” There are times when they think something is an emergency, but it’s not really. Hope this helps!

I explained the situation to John as a safety check and he agreed. It IS like rewarding them for not cussing. We would never consider it.

Keep in mind I’m not against using positive recognition or reward systems. I think they are great for teaching and helping establish new behavior patterns. i.e. potty training, taking on chores, etc. I use(d) one with my kids when introducing them to their bedtime routine of cleaning their room, brushing their teeth, putting clothes away, etc. It worked great initially, but then those actions became part of the routine, most of the time anyway. So now we are in the process of moving on to bigger tasks for rewards and letting the standard baseline include the ones they have mastered.

However, I just think we often set up kids to expect rewards for doing the right thing or the responsible thing instead of just doing it because they should. We see it on TV everyday. The little sitcoms laughs at the daughter being told to help or clean up and the retort is, “What am I gonna get for it?” (hand stretched out seeking compensation) I HATE THAT!!!!

I’m not a perfect mom and I don’t have perfect kids. In fact, my kids are expert negotiators at age 4! And I basically taught them how to do it. We (me, moms, society) teach them to share. It’s one of our primary directives when navigating year 2 with a child. Sharing is about negotiating. I take my turn and then you take yours. I’ll do it 3 times, then you do it 3 times. It’s all a negotiation. And this is key because life is a myriad of negotiations in relationships, business and even self-discipline.

But… you knew it was coming… there is also a fine line drawn when it comes to what you do for compensation versus non-compensation. Getting in to interpersonal relationship and family dynamics presents more opportunities where you have to make a choice to either negotiate or just do it because.

When we begin to negotiate bad behavior with rewards versus consequences, we set ourselves as parents up to fail and ultimately we set the kids up to fail! Plus we miss an opportunity to instill a sense of pride and self-esteem for doing the right thing.

I am the worst when it comes to not realizing that I do it. John points it out to me quite often that I negotiate compliance versus expect it. He’s right. It’s typically a scenario where I’m giving a choice because that’s what we’ve been ‘educated’ to do with children. Give them choices, make them feel a part of the process, that they have some control. This is good. It is true. But not necessarily when it comes to compliance.

Like just about every other mom out there, I often wonder if I’m getting it right or screwing it up. I know I don’t have all the answers. Very few for sure. But I hope I’m making more right choices than wrong ones.

How do you see it?

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