We are not concerned with rodents' developing self-esteem, their sense of autonomy or independence, nor do we give a hoot whether the rat will get interested in trying bigger and better mazes of it's own accord, long after we stop rewarding it with little food pellets. And that, as most of our experts have failed to tell us, is where the whole fancy technology of "reward, praise and reinforce" falls to pieces. :)
Over and over we have been taught that we should praise and reward our children a lot more. What could be wrong with that? On the surface, praise looks marvelous - the key to successful children! Scratch this surface, however, and the results look very different. But, rewards improve children's behavior and performance, don't they? Or so we thought. However, when the little gold stars or jelly-beans stop coming, the behavior we were trying to reinforce tends to peter out. :cheer: :whistle:
Children that have grown used to expecting praise, can feel crushed when it doesn't come. This dampens their perseverance. There is plenty of evidence that in the long term, reward systems are ineffective. Contrary to popular myth, there are many studies showing that when children expect or anticipate rewards, they perform more poorly. One study found that students' performance was undermined when offered money for better marks. :ohmy: :lol:
A number of American and Israeli studies show that reward systems suppress students' creativity, and generally impoverish the quality of their work. Rewards can kill creativity, because they discourage risk-taking. When children are hooked on getting a reward, they tend to avoid challenges, to "play it safe". They prefer to do the minimum required to get that prize. Here is a good illustration of why we made the mistake of believing in rewards, based on benefits that appear on the surface. :woohoo:
When an American fast-food company offered food prizes to children for every book they read, reading rates soared. This certainly looked encouraging - at first glance. On closer inspection, however, it was demonstrated that the children were selecting shorter books, and that their comprehension test-scores plummeted. They were reading for junk-food, rather than for the intrinsic enjoyment of reading. :whistle:
Meanwhile, reading outside school (the unrewarded situation) dropped off. There are many more studies showing that, while rewards may well increase activity, they smother enthusiasm and kill passion. Individuals anticipating rewards lose interest in activities that were otherwise attractive. It seems that the more we want the reward, the more we come to dislike what we have to do to get it. :) :whistle:
The activity required of us stands in the way of our coveted prize. It would have been smarter to just give the kids more interesting books, as there is plenty of evidence that intrinsically enjoyable activity is the best motivator and performance enhancer. Can rewards and praise harm our relationship with our children? You wouldn't think that the positive things you say to your child about himself or herself can be as destructive as negative labels. But there are times when this is true. :) B)
Thanks to modern advances in behavioral science, our ability to seduce or manipulate children (and animals! and grown-ups!) to do what we want them to has become increasingly sophisticated. But the cost of manipulating through rewards has been great. Below are ten ways in which praise and rewards can damage our relationship with our children. Rewards and praise condition children to seek approval; they end up doing things to impress, instead of doing things for themselves. :unsure:
This can hold back the development of self-motivation and makes them dependent on outside opinion. When children get used to getting goodies for "performing", they become pleasers, over-reliant on positive strokes. Rewards and praise can create a kind of addictive behavior: children can get addicted to recognition, and thus lose touch with the simple joy of doing what they love. So many of us are addicted to prestige: we get depressed when admiration fails to come. :lol:
It is important to reward your child if he or she does something good and right. But remember that your child should know that you love him or her unconditionally and he or she should not do anything special for you to please him or her and to show your love. Love is not something to deserve. But if you know that your child dreams about something and you can give it to him or her, do it.
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