Slate Magazine: Experts Say Not to Bribe Kids. I’ll Give you $10 and Stale Candy if You Prove Them Wrong
January 15th 2013.
“Dr. Deci, now a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, said the biggest problem with tangible rewards is that they actually work, at least in the short run. “If you want somebody to do something, and if you have enough money, you can get them do it,” he said. “Practically anyone, practically anything.”
But with children, he pointed out, since you are trying to get them to do the behavior “more or less ongoingly for the rest of their lives,” the technique will backfire unless you’re prepared to offer the same reward every time. “You don’t want them coming to you when they’re grown,” he said.
But are any of us really trying to get our kids to do the things we want them to do for the rest of their lives, or are we simply trying to force short-term results on immediate problems? A mom I know—let’s just say her name rhymes with Schmallison Schmenedikt—may have offered treats and awesome band-aids while trying to get her toddler out of diapers and into Disney-themed underwear (itself a reward for some other good behavior), but don’t we all say things like, “You shouldn’t stress about potty training! It’s not like little Bobby will still be in diapers when he’s 15!” You aren’t really training your child to shit in the toilet forever—he would likely pick up that skill with or without you. You are training your child to shit in the toilet next week, because lord you cannot stomach another diapers.com order.
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By Allison Benedikt