As I grow through my peaceful parenting group meetings, my way of thinking continues to shift. I understand better how punishing may lead to compliance only to avoid the punishment or the behavior may still happen when the child knows he won't get caught.
Aren't bribes really the easy way not the right way? If you don't hurt your brother today, we can go out for an icecream tonight, for example. What is being learned - absolutely nothing good.
Rewards generally result in the child exhibiting the "wanted" behavior for the praise, the "A", or the money.
To love and support our children to become the person they can fully be and are intended to become requires parents reaching their children's hearts - unconditionally - even through the struggles, the "acting out", the disappointments.
Isn't that really what Jesus is about? That although we are sinners his grace and love are sufficient for ALL.
I am working on applying this way of thinking to my role as mom. (and really to all relationships)
This is a great philosophy. Is there a book I can read to find out more? Thanks.ReplyDelete
Rewards and Punishments by Alfie Kohn
Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort
and a newer Christian book - Give Them Grace by Fitzpatrick
Oh Tonya! Thank you!!!Delete
Yes thank you!! Checking these out!!Delete
I have read Kohn and Aldort and I agree with you they are spot on. Even if I have one Kohn or Aldort moment a day it's better than how I used to parent -- it can be really hard to break that reward punishment style when that is how you were raised and sadly it is so prevalent in schools.ReplyDelete
I enjoyed reading your thoughts, as I've thought about this quite a bit with my own parenting. I would only add that there are important differences between rewards, punishments, bribes, and consequences. No matter what, we all face consequences for our actions and our job as parents is to help our children understand that their actions do have consequences and to help them learn to make the choices that will bring them the consequences they desire...hopefully before the stakes are too high (such as when they get older and consequences become more drastic and permanent by nature). It is not a bad thing to avoid doing a bad thing because we don't want the undesirable consequence, as this is what they will need to do in the adult world to yield the results they are looking for. I think that the key to our parenting is to use the natural consequences as much as possible, and to try and make what we are teaching them translate to what they will experience as an adult (for example, getting dessert for being nice to your sister is not a natural consequence and doesn't translate to the adult world). Jesus did suffer for our sins, but still requires us to give our best efforts and to obey His commandments. The gift is free to all who will follow Him, but not just free. I think that God does now and will one day reward "good behavior" and the righteous desires of our hearts (even though we are still imperfect) and I also think that there will ultimately be punishment for those who knew better and did not choose a good path in life. But only He can judge that :) So I guess I don't think that rewards and punishments are bad in and of themselves, but I do think when misused or inappropriately chosen then they don't teach our kids what we are hoping (as you said). Just my two cents!ReplyDelete
I really appreciate your thoughts - it is so hard for me to articulate and to completely wrap my brain around - but for me the bottom line is God wants our hearts - when He lives in us - we are less likely to sin. Why would we want to when we are filled with joy? So I agree with natural consequences - and I know I still use rewards and punishments because it is so a part of me still - such a learning process and so hard to re-work learned behaviors.Delete
That is where I am at too Kara. I think just being aware that there is another way is a start and then getting myself to stop and think before I react is helping.ReplyDelete
It is so hard to erase all we have learned - not only from our parents but also from society as a whole.
I knew when I became a mother, that I was not going to do the reward system. Nor the punishing system either. My boys are growing up that there are consequences to every action, and that every choice is made when we surrender to Our Lord! Thank you so much for sharing...ReplyDelete
We are offered so much amazing grace every single moment by the Savior - such a good reminder to do the same for our children. I am interested in the peaceful parenting book!ReplyDelete
I'm right there with you...striving to apply :-)ReplyDelete
I don't come at this from any particular religious faith, but I totally agree that both praise and punishment are generally damaging to our children's long term confidence and to our relationships with them.
That said, I sure as heck wish my boys would be just little more accommodating sometimes!!
I love this post. Thank you so much for sharing :)ReplyDelete
Thanks for your post. I have been trying to move away from rewards and punishments but am at a loss on how to make the kids behave still. I have found that consequences are important. I am not sure if this right but have found the need to have some sort of solid line with our children. As adults we know the pain and uncomfort of consequences. Even when veer of the path of righteousness we feel discomfort and that is a consequence. I would love advice on how you are making this work in your home.ReplyDelete
Oh Tonya!! I am just coming to this realization myself. I have been devouring any info I can find on parenting without punishing. I would love to hear more about what you are doing with your little ones. It seems to be easier with my two youngest...then again my oldest is very strong willed - just like her Mama was.ReplyDelete
My experience with my two children is that each child is unique and responds differently. With one, the whole concept of consequences and compassion for others was incredibly hard to get through. With the other child, we still have "do I really deserve this when so many others have nothing?" conversations. So it hasn't been possible to use the same approach with both - but I think that being honest with our children, and trying to be guided by unconditional love for them, is a good guiding principle. Thanks for blogging about your own thinking and adventures in parenting. I admire you, with such a big family!ReplyDelete
My children are adult now - but I am still engaged with these issues, partly because as someone who tutors children one-to-one I am often asked for advice by parents. I am so encouraged every time I read about families like yours who are exploring more peaceful ways, and when I observe people interacting with their children peaceably, even in challenging circumstances. Looking back, I think I instinctively avoided a lot of reward and punishment with our children. What we did do instead of reward was what I would call 'celebration' - a treat for the whole family to mark some achievement rather than just for the individual.ReplyDelete