October 3, 2013.
When it comes to teaching children about money, there are few tactics that draw more outright hostility from parenting experts than our amateurish attempts to bribe the little people.
Just to be clear, we’re not talking about the money-for-chores trade here. It’s the money as motivation method that gets experts going. Eileen and Jon Gallo, the authors of “Silver Spoon Kids,” worry that children who receive financial incentives for good grades or behavior will grow up to be the sort of adults who try to buy friends and swap money for love.
In her book “The Price of Privilege,” Madeline Levine describes attempts to “buy our children off” as outright modeling of materialism.
Research scientists have spent decades trying to determine how or if tangible rewards like money undermine children’s intrinsic motivation. One school of thought is anchored in the observation that people who are paid to perform an interesting activity, like a puzzle, are less likely to return to it later when they have free time. The theory here is that people crave autonomy and competence, and a reward undermines their own sense of control. These effects can be more pronounced in children.
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By Ron Lieber
Ron Lieber will write about children and money every other Thursday for Motherlode. If you have an issue you would like to see covered, e-mail him, leave a comment or suggest a topic on hisFacebook page.