mother children Children, Adolescents

 & the Family

Some Topics

Pay for Good Behavior and Good Results

Parents teach children by offering rewards to encourage desirable behavior and punishment to discourage undesirable behavior. Rewards are offered as positive reinforcements to desirable behaviors. Conditioning strengthens goal-directed behavior. The rigorous application of conditioning is common in organizations that depend on routines, repetitious work and compliance with a strict social order. In contrast, the sense of freedom thrives when conditioning is minimal and individual choice is encouraged.

Brain maturation is gradual process that leads to increasing ability to make better choices. Maturation requires changes in brain function that depends in part on learning. Adults are usually better at making choices and must guide their children for many years.

Three vital needs of children can be encouraged with one strategy – pay for good results and good behavior. The first need is to be taught to do the right things and to be rewarded for the effort. Children need to be taught task-oriented planning and scheduling.

Children need to be taught about money, especially the relationship between task accomplishment and monetary reward.

Task and rewards should be well defined and include a schedule. The emphasis is reward, but reasonable fines can levied occasionally for failure to complete tasks and specific rule infractions. A child who fails often needs help, not punishment. Parents can define routine care that comes free with the home and describe all extras as “privileges” that are earned. All money received by children is earned, except for gifts on special occasions.

Family tokens can replace real money. Tokens represent real value and can be exchanged for a variety of rewards. Parents can be inventive in their rewards systems and can learn about their own evaluations and motivations by interacting with their children.

I like the token system, since you can be more flexible with rewards, including value exchanges that are independent of money. Children in a family can develop their own economy by exchanging tokens for services they render to each other. A sister might earn 5 tokens for clearing the kitchen after dinner and offer her brother 3 tokens for helping her with a math assignment. As with commercial point motivation systems, the family can have a catalogue of rewards when enough tokens are earned. Obviously, rewards should be appropriate to age and ability. Younger children should have their own tokens and their own catalogue of rewards.

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  • Children and the Family by Stephen Gislason MD examines the intense interactions of parents and children. From Dr. G's preface:" Parents receive a lot of advice from many people. Popular magazines and books offer a continuous stream of conflicting advice. Professionals have a variety of opinions about child-rearing that range from helpful suggestions to misleading and even bizarre ideas. Child psychology is an eclectic assembly of ideas, miscellaneous observations, opinions, fears and irrational beliefs. Confusion prevails in education about what children should learn and how they should learn it. If psychologists, physicians, and educators are confused, what about parents? Parenting is difficult and long-term relationships sometimes fail. The best parents are pragmatic and not theorists. They stay involved with their children, follow some basic guidelines they learned and tend to do whatever works. Good parents improvise childcare with a combination of innate generosity, common sense, love and concessions to the demands of modern life."

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    Additional recommended reading includes the books
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