Rewards and Consequences

13 01 2011

I’ve been reading Boundaries with Kids by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. This book is packed with great ideas related to how making good choices leads to children who grow up healthy and with great character. I came across a good section on rewards. This affects me not only as a parent, but also as someone who serves kids weekly at our church.

I’ll quote:

A mom told me recently that she had told her son to do something minimal like take out the trash, and his reply was “What will you give me?” She asked me what a good reward would be. I told her to tell him that she would give him a very hard time if he didn’t do what she asked. She looked at me funny, but we had an interesting discussion about rewards and punishment.

We believe in rewards for these two things:

  1. Acquiring new skills
  2. Performing exceptionally

We do not believe in rewards for these:

  1. Doing the age-appropriate requirements of civilized people (such as living skills)
  2. Doing what is expected (such as work)

You’ll have to read the chapter for the fleshing out of these ideas, but I think they provide a grid I’ve been looking for regarding rewards.

There are usually two camps on rewards. One is that rewards are bad and the other is that rewards are good. That always seemed too simplistic to me. This framework of when rewards are good and when they are not is more useful than picking a side.

Consider this example they give:

We reward a two-year-old for learning potty training, not an adult for being able to continue it.

Sometimes in church, kids will show disrespect by not listening to their leader. Should a reward be given when respect is shown or should it be expected? I think generally, it should be expected, but if the expectation has never been clearly stated or there has never been any consequence for disrespect perhaps a spontaneous reward will move things in the right direction. In other words, these children are acquiring a new skill that hasn’t been evident in this particular situation in the past. Over time however, rewards for common respect should lessen and then consequences for disrespect will take the place of rewards.

Cloud and Townsend write:

Once children have learned the skills required for responsible living, these should be expected without reward. To the contrary, it should cost them if they do not do them.

The danger of rewards is when children begin demanding them by asking, “What will you give me for doing this?” When it comes to that, perhaps consequences are in store. We are raising kids not to live rightly in order to get something. We are raising kids to make right choices leading to responsible lives that please God.

Hebrews 11:6 says,

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.


Why Your Kids Don’t Obey You

19 10 2010

There was a moment last week that had me exasperated with my son Josiah. We were at the waterfront and getting ready to go back in the van to go home. He was trotting on past the van and not intending to stop. I called him. He didn’t even look back. I raised my voice hoping for a bite. Nothing. I raised my voice louder (thankfully the park wasn’t very populated at the time). Still nothing and he’s just getting farther away. So now, with my temperature rising, I run after him, catch him and firmly plant his little butt on the ground as a consequence. On the way over my keys fell out of my pocket. As I turn to go back and retrieve them, I notice a happy couple walking by. I think to myself, “Act cool,” hoping they didn’t notice anything ridiculous that I may have done. Needless to say, I felt a lack of confidence in my parenting, thinking, “Why won’t he just obey?”

I’m quick to admit that I don’t have all the answers to the many parenting issues that come my way. These moments certainly reveal that. One thing that helps me to put this into perspective is to put myself in my Heavenly Father’s shoes. Not that I really can get into His shoes, but you get the idea! I know He is constantly looking down at me with patience as I continually disobey. I guess that’s the journey for me and my family: learn to obey God, which leads to enjoying that fully satisfying relationship with Him. As we obey Him and enjoy Him, we can then also model for others, including our kids, that this kind of life really is the best kind of life.

You may find the following advice from iMom, called Why Your Kids Don’t Obey You, helpful in your pursuit of growing great kids:

“If you don’t clean your room right now, no video games for three months!”  Boy, that sounds tough, but come on; will you really follow through on a threat like that?  The bottom line is that threats don’t work.  Here’s what does – reality discipline.  In this week’s Learn A Latte, guest iSpecialist Dr. Kevin Lehman gives 3 ways to get your kids to mind you without resorting to yelling, or threats you won’t follow through on.His methods have worked in my house.  Now, instead of saying, “Andrew, if you don’t take a shower you can’t watch the game on TV,”  I say, “Andrew, you can watch the game after you’ve taken your shower.”  That puts the ball in his court.  I don’t have to keep pushing and threatening, and he has a clear idea of what he needs to do.Dr. Lehman also shares how to stop bickering in the back seat.  It’s a classic!

Discipline Pattern for Children, Teens and Even Yourself

24 09 2010

I want to raise my kids in such a way that they will know and acknowledge God as their trusted Father and Friend. Building trust with children is critical for this to happen. Trust is built when your love is unwavering in the midst of discipline. In fact, engaging in disciplining your child is itself an act of love. We discipline because we love. We implement painful consequences for wrongdoing in order to lead children to make right choices in the future. Pain is a powerful motivator. We ourselves need to accept the discipline God gives us! Our children learn to trust that we want what is best for them. Hebrews 12:6 and 11 says,

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Now don’t you want to taste that succulent peaceful fruit in your home? Then discipline your child, teenager and yourself.

I have a biblical pattern that I follow when disciplining our children. It goes like this: Read the rest of this entry »

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