It all started with an M&M. Little Susie couldn’t understand for the life of her why she would walk away from her toys to go sit on the potty when it was so convenient to go in her diaper. With the promise of a pea sized candy, suddenly there was a reason. Before long, it even clicked that it was actually pretty nice not to wade in feces and urine. In short, little Susie was bribed, but ultimately taught a skill.
Unwittingly, Susie carried that same logic into her adult years and applied it to her career. The more skills she applied, the more incentives she received, ultimately leading to financial security. And, yet, she grew up not needing anything chocolate cover coated to encourage her to use the potty.
Sure, a quick google search of “expert” parenting advice will claim that Susie’s parents got it wrong by bribing her, but their articles generally finish with advising parents to use rewards and not bribes. The difference between the two boils down to one key item: a thesaurus.
Granted if parents get carried away and a child is not able to function without a brand new toy car just to get them out of bed each morning, then it may be time to give the “rewards” a rest.
However, when it comes to modifying a behavior or learning a new skill, some motivation can lead to success coupled with a lesson taught.
For example, if a mother promises her kid(s) a sticker if they behave during her doctor’s visit, the child(ren) teach him/her/themselves how to be more patient as well as learning to maintain a pleasant demeanor.
Positive verbal reinforcement in life only goes so far. If an employee is earning an additional million dollars a month for a company, a congratulatory “you did it” would understandably get a little old without some sort of compensation.
With that logic and Susie in mind, the next time you promise a penny to put in your child’s piggy bank if they make it through the grocery store tantrum free, just remind yourself that you’re raising a future CEO.
Photo credit: Morgue File