A couple of months ago, an article by journalist Melinda Wenner Moyer – whose work I normally greatly respect – started making the rounds on Facebook. Then (knowing my approach to parenting) a couple of readers emailed it to me and asked me what I thought of it.
The article was called Go Ahead: Heap Rewards On Your Kid, with the subtitle: Parents are told stickers and trinkets for good behavior will ruin their children—but the research is wildly misunderstood.
Moyer’s main point is that while a large number of sources state that rewards are detrimental to children’s development (largely to their intrinsic motivation), “the literature on the potential dangers of rewards has been misinterpreted while the findings on its benefits have been largely overlooked.”
I had already done an episode on the negative impact of rewards on children’s development. I was prepared to wholeheartedly disagree with Moyer’s article. But I came out of it sort of half-convinced that she might be right.
So I came up with a two-pronged approach to the research for this episode. Firstly, I would dig into all the research that she read (and some more besides) to fully understand the evidence she consults, with one guiding premise:
Is it possible that Moyer is right? Is it possible that rewards have some benefit for children and for families?
And secondly, I wanted to get Alfie Kohn – the author of Punished by Rewards – to address these issues in-person.
Spoiler alert: heaping rewards on your kid is great for gaining compliance. If compliance is what you want in your child.
Get a free guide called How to Stop Using Rewards To Gain Your Child’s Compliance (And what to do instead)
I also want to let you know about the new Finding Your Parenting Mojo membership group. Each month the group will tackle one topic related to parenting and child development, and we’ll help you to learn about and implement new strategies and tools to support your child’s development and make parenting easier for you.
It’ll be like having a personal guide to help you implement the ideas you hear about on the show.
To tie in to this week’s episode, I have a FREE guide called How to Stop Using Rewards To Gain Your Child’s Compliance (And what to do instead) available as a preview of the membership group content. Each month you’ll get a guide just like this, walking you through a different aspect of parenting and helping you to make the changes needed to make sure your day-to-day-parenting is in line with your goals for the kind of child you want to raise.
Because it turns out that the desire to raise an independent, thoughtful adult with strong critical reasoning skills isn’t so well aligned with rewarding a child for complying with your wishes.
Then join me for a FREE webinar on how to implement what you learn in the guide on October 18 at noon PST.
See you there!
Only a few generations ago, it made sense to ignore expert parenting advice. Most of it was nonsense.
In the early 20th century, parents were instructed by books and manuals to always keep their childrens’ heads pointed north, so as to somehow be in line with electrical currents traveling the globe.
Pregnant mothers were told to “avoid thinking of ugly people,” because their thoughts might somehow transform the appearance of the child.
On the advice of experts, parents fed their children kerosene and turpentine to cure croup and the common cold.
Is attachment the same as bonding?
Can I have a healthy attachment with my baby if I don’t breastfeed?
Do I have to babywear to develop an attachment to my baby?
Will being apart from my baby disrupt our attachment relationship?
Is co-sleeping critical to attachment?
These are just a few of the questions that listeners wrote to me after I sent out a call for questions on Attachment. This was such an enormous topic to cover that Dr. Arietta Slade and I did the best we could in the time we had, and we did indeed cover a lot of ground.
If you’ve ever been curious about the scientific evidence on how attachment forms, what are its benefits, and what it has NOT been shown to do, this is the episode for you. We also cover reflective functioning, one of the central ways that the attachment relationship develops, and discuss how to improve our skills in this arena.
(Photo credit: Saul Loeb)
I don’t normally write political posts. It’s not my expertise, and while four of my top five StrengthsFinder strengths are related to learning the fifth is Harmony, which means that while I enjoy a conversation about ideas, I can’t stand feeling attacked. Political discussion just seems to often bring out both the best and worse in people. And Your Parenting Mojo is about inclusiveness and commonality, not division.
But what’s going on with the Kavanaugh nomination fills me with both anger and despair – for the immediate cause, for sure, that we are about to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court who may have committed sexual assault but we can’t know for certain because nobody will conduct a proper investigation.
The new school year is now well underway; my daughter moved up to a new preschool class this year and we certainly seeing some changes.
She’s in with the fours, fives, and some sixes now and relational aggression is rearing its ugly head. Almost every day we’re hearing some version of “[Friend] said she didn’t want to play with me today,” or “I’m never going to play with [Friend] again!” or “I’m not going to be [Friend’s] friend any more.”
Typically these issues seem to be forgotten about by the next day and they’re back to playing together again but boy, am I sick of hearing about it already!