This is what I have learned in the last few weeks.  It's something I knew once before but what we do not practice we lose.  Whether you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, mentor, Sunday school teacher, etc...  this is the truth for the way to deal with children and their behavior at home, in the classroom, etc.

 

I believe in offering rewards for good behavior to children.  I believe they should be small rewards with short term goals in mind.  For example for a week of good behavior the reward will be a trip to the park to play or a tube of lip gloss (which you can get for $1 at the dollar store) or extra time playing a board game with mom and dad over the weekend.  Rewards do not have to be extravagant and the smaller and easier they are they more consistent the parent can be in giving them. 

Children LIKE to accomplish things, the reward is actually secondary to them.  They don't realize it, but they want to please their parents and the result of a proud parent is a greater reward to them than the little prize they received.  My girls love to stop at the gas station and get a push-up which might cost .50 cents each.  I can handle that and working to get it and being able to easily obtain it is just icing on the cake, but in the meantime they are learning good behavior and a good work ethic.  Giving extravagant things to our children all the time, especially when they have not been behaving well, only spoils them into thinking they should get whatever they want and when they want it which is always RIGHT NOW!  We don't want to raise children like this.  This doesn't mean you never give them anything really nice or extravagant, but let the cause meet the timing.  This blog post is more about withholding than giving.  Withholding causes more problems than people might be aware of.  Do you go to work everyday for no reason at all?  Then we shouldn't expect anything different for our children.  As they grow older we can begin to explain to them the spiritual rewards and self esteem rewards that come with good deeds as well.  But as a child, monetary rewards are something they can see and understand clearly.  It is something we can regularly repeat and that allows us to train them.  One instance is not training, training is a process.  Because of their age and the extent of what they still need to learn in life learning to do good to earn the things they want is good practice for being an adult.  Even God rewards those who live in obedience to Him.  There is no higher example than God.  But if we are not consistent and clear with our children even a well intended offer of reward can start trouble. 

 

HERE IS THE MAIN POINT: >>  If a child has the promise of a reward dangled in front of them and finds out over a course of time that what they have to do to win that reward is close to impossible NO MATTER HOW HARD THEY ACTUALLY TRY FOR IT then they will forget about the reward and not even try anymore.  Punishment for not trying will not make them try or try harder.  Punishment should be reserved for out right defiance so long as WE are not the cause of it.  Let's be honest as parents with ourselves and make sure WE are not causing some of the problems.  Are we modeling bad behavior?  Does our skepticism run out of our mouths and into their ears in a way that taints and stains their hearts and minds to be distrusting or judgmental of everything?  Yes, the first step in dealing with bad behavior in our children is always to check our own and be very very honest with ourselves first.  Punishment is the end of the road not the first resort because it rarely fixes a problem, it simply responds to a problem.  They may try the first time or two to avoid punishment, but once the reality sets in again that the reward cannot be obtained, they will regress right back into that bad behavior and begin to accept both the failure and the punishment.  This is why repeated punishment loses it's affect.  The threat of punishment doesn't work as a deterrent anymore.  It just creates more and more and more discouragement and frustration.  It's the recipe for creating a monster!  They will accept that they won't ever get the reward AND they will go ahead and take punishment and begin to act out worse than before.  With repeated punishment comes frustration over something they cannot obtain so they will act out in defiance because the truth is we have expected something of them that is unreasonable, unfair, and ungenerous.  Don't offer rewards to kids if they can't obtain them and don't frustrate them with punishment for not obtaining something unreasonable.   Each child's personality is different, be reasonable and be GENEROUS with rewards. When that child has done THEIR best, even if when compared to a different child with a different personality they didn't succeed as well, they should still obtain a reward for progressing.  They should not be compared to anyone but themselves; where they were, where they are and where they are going.   It's okay to pat a kid on the back and give a reward if they accomplish only part of a task that you know they tried to accomplish.  Consider the accomplishment, not how far you have left to go.  And be reasonable in goal setting.  Set obtainable goals.  Don't expect to accomplish everything in a day or in a week.  Now think about how generous God is to us even though we aren't perfect yet.  He rewards us along the way.  He teaches us one day at a time.  He deals with us according to who we are and who He created us to be, not according to our neighbor.  Children don't usually tend to be outwardly defiant for no reason at all.  Either there is tension in home, neglect, even certain kinds of food additives can cause children to act erratically, but there is a reason and the adult is the one who has to figure it out and work the situation in the right way for the right outcome.  Who's in charge?  You are!  So if you don't like what you are getting from your kids, then start really paying attention and figure out what is causing the problem and fix it.  They aren't going to because you were ordained for that job and no one else can or will do it for you.  With God, all things are possible.  Begin to pray over what is bothering you and how to solve the problem.  God WILL show you an answer!!