Misplaced Pride

12 Oct

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?


Posted by on October 12, 2010 in Parenting


Tags: , , , , , , ,

5 responses to “Misplaced Pride

  1. Princess Lea

    October 13, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Reward does not necessarily mean a trip to Toys R Us. Reward could be something as simple as “Good boy”; positive reinforcement can also manifest in verbal reward. A child is very dependent on the parents, and seeks to please them, and saying “Good job,” means a lot to a child.

    Punishment, I have found (with 14 nieces and nephews as guinea pigs) is very effective when taking away something a child was given, or time outs – for instance, you gave a child a toy, and because they’re misbehaving, you take away the toy.

    But what really annoys me is when parents don’t have the guts to go through with it, or make a threat they have no intention of keeping. I think very hard when I threaten a child, because you can’t bluff your way through it. Consistency is also key. If you are inconsistent, your kids are going to drive you up the wall every minute of every day. If they know resistance is futile, they won’t start.

    And finally, every parent is entitled to put the kid to bed early and snuggle up with a Kit Kat bar (are you okay with chalav stam?).

  2. jen

    October 13, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    i always treat myself with chocolate- it keeps the motor going! but i do it on days when my parenting felt great (good girl, jen, keepit up) or when it was a frustrating, nobody-listen-to-mommy day (don’t worry, kid are kids, feel better – tomorrow is another day!)

    now don’t say a word about dieting, you!

  3. brochi

    October 13, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    I strongly believe children should be rewarded for their good behavior. Like Princess said not “stuff” but recognition, a hug and praise. We give so much negative attention for negative behavior that sometimes children will behave wrongly just for that. When I’m consciously seeking where my son is good, behaves and obeys it spurs him to be better. I feel that my making a big deal about his good stuff also helps him in his perception of who he is, a good boy.

  4. Anon 99

    October 15, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Your reaction to your son’s growth has less to do with him than it has to do with yourself being happy that he is well – which means subconsciously that as to his growth you are not failing as a parent at this time.

    As to your actual point – Keep in mind that there is a tremendous difference between positive reinforcement and reward. Praise, recognition, a nod or anything that shows the child that he is doing the right thing is essential to a child’s physical and mental growth.

    Rewarding a child for doing something it should be doing has its places. For example bribery is a common method for toilet training – but a 5 year should not get a toy for not peeing in its underwear. Offering desert for eating nicely, allowing one to stay up for kiddush on Friday night if they are otherwise ready for bed. All of these have their places at certain times.

    As for rewarding yourself – right now your child does not do much. It eats, sleeps, poops and pees and cries. Maybe he has started to do small things like turn over or reach for things. These are all exciting and rewarding as a parent just to watch. It keeps getting more fun as they get older and start to interact. Nothing makes me happier today than my 3 and 1/2 year old randomly hugging me and telling me how much he loves me. As he gets older I will be rewarded in other ways g-d willing. No need for chocolate to celebrate your child’s progress. Just sit back and enjoy and feel rewarded by the simple progress of your son.

  5. Morah Mamela

    October 16, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    I agree with Anon 99 above.

    Wanted to add though, that we shouldn’t forget that as adults, we are also rewarded for a lot of things we should be doing anyway. Do we not get paid for going to work each day? If your boss didn’t pay you, or only commented when you didn’t do what you were supposed to do, how likely would you be to stay at your job?


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