People have very different opinions on reward and punishment when it comes to children. When a child misbehaves people generally punish the child (not getting into how they punish, whether it’s a stern talking to, silent treatment, withholding a treat to spanking – irrelevant in this article).
However when a child does what he’s supposed to do, this is where people begin to differ. I hear the side when people say, “don’t reward a child for good behavior, he’s supposed to be good regardless, it’s not an extra something they’re doing”. It makes sense, why needlessly spoil a child and basically give them tools to manipulate you with.
Then today I took my 2 month old to the doctor for a well visit. And boy was I proud of him. I was able to tell the doctor that my Shmooshky smiles at me, tracks me from across the room, holds his head beautifully…I was so proud and I told my son so. And when the nurse informed me that he had gained 2 and ¾ pounds, I was glowing, and told my son how brilliant and special he was. Now really, all he did was what he’s supposed to do. There isn’t even cognitive thought and intent there, this is what is body was made and meant to do at this stage and he was performing a function. When the doctor asked about his skills it wasn’t so much as a yes or no, but rather just checking for conformation. And yet I’m still a proud Mama, because my son is doing what he’s supposed to be doing.
So back to the original quandary…should parents reward their child for doing what expected of them? Looking at my reaction, one may think I say yes, but I think my reward was really more affirming for me than my child. Telling me that I did a good job raising my child that he’s capable of doing the things he should. It sounds a little egotistical to compliment my own parenting skills, so I just coo at my son instead.
So now, are parents just misplacing their rewards? Should we be rewarding ourselves for our child’s good behavior?
I think so. Who’s sponsoring my chocolate?