Should Your Kids Be Paid for Performance

by admin on March 27, 2012

Parents and experts are split when it comes to paying for performance. Some parents say children should not be rewarded for things they are supposed to be doing anyway, for example, getting good grades and doing work around the house. It all depends on family values. In some homes, school is considered a job, and children are rewarded for doing well (The Globe and Mail).

One interesting question is whether schools should reward children for performance. Some schools in the US have begun to reward children with class parties, iPods, and cash, in an effort to increase performance. The effect of monetary rewards was tested as part of the Learn and Earn Program at Creekside High and Bear Creek Middle, targeting students who barely met academic standards as well as those who performed below the mark in science and math. At the rate of $32 a week or $8 an hour, students who participated in the pilot program were given the chance to earn $480 during the school year. The amount a student earned was tied to participation and attendance. The Learn and Earn approach has proven to be beneficial. The study results suggest that offering financial incentives is a good strategy to motivate students to attend after-school tutoring sessions. The relationships that were formed in such a setting, with support and encouragement, promise success (AJC).  

So far, arguments point in favor of rewarding children in the family and at school. But some beg to disagree. Truly, the praise-and-reward strategy is hunky-dory, and there is plenty of evidence to support it. It is based on the studies of psychologists who discovered that dogs salivate at the sound of a bell, pigeons peck at colored buttons, and rats run maze – when they are controlled through rewards. Psychologists began to explore the possibilities of controlling humans by using the same principles. They were certainly excited to find out that rewards have the same effect on humans as they do on dogs, pigeons, and rats. The know-how developed by modern psychologists made it possible to manipulate children’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior. There is only one problem with this line of thinking. People do not care much about the quality of relationship they would have with a lab-rat. They are not worried whether rodents will develop their independence, sense of autonomy, and self-esteem. Humans are not concerned whether a rat will want to try better and bigger mazes after the researcher is no longer rewarding it with food pellets. This, according to some, is where the method of “reward, praise and reinforce” practically falls to pieces.

Then, when the jelly-beans and gold stars stop coming, the behaviors parents were aiming to reinforce tend to peter out. Kids who were raised to expect praise may feel frustrated and crushed if it does not come anymore. This can dampen perseverance, and evidence points in the direction of reward systems being ineffective in the long term (The Natural Child Project).

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: