Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rewarding Desired Behavior

It is true that I hoped Ernie (3.5 yrs) would show some sustained interest in the television. For a child with speech delay, there might be some benefit.  Right?  At last, he has taken interest, perhaps more than I'd like.  OK, so sometimes he wails when we turn it off, but that is when he is too tired or because he is three.  He is inspired by his time with Bob The Builder and Caillou, evident in the many terrific ideas and projects that ensue.  I recognize that TV watching is an unfortunate default. 
Sometimes offering TV privileges (in timed 10 minute increments) as a treat for desired behaviors (specifically eating and dressing) has been an effective motivator. But is this shortsighted?  Am I winning a battle and losing a war?  And I wonder:   Is it suitable to offer a reward that is not "technically beneficial for my children"?  Offering rewards suited to the desires of the person in need of external motivation seems sensible. Maybe I am unintentionally elevating the value of TV.   
AND, is it reasonable to reward a child a privilege and then threaten to delay the reward to support continued good choices?  Because, we do that.
As a child, my parents did not offer me gifts and rewards specifically significant to me.  When my value or idea was not shared by them, it could not be honored.   These motivational techniques resulted in their equally reduced abilities to administer effective punishment for me.  READ:  OUT OF CONTROL!!  When you believe you have Nothing to Lose or Gain, you will try anything at all for a moment of satisfaction, relief...or revenge.   Please let me inspire my boys with the hope and confidence to pursue success and desire as they see it.

*I wonder how my vastly inhibited impulse control may have been altered if it had been met by hope for some genuine indulgence.  And if I would still hunger "to love" people who feel strongly about giving only what they want to give. And when will I learn that no behavior of mine will elicit gestures of sensitivity from someone uninclined that way?


  1. I don't think there's anything wrong with rewards, and quite frankly, I feel like tv is better than food.

  2. It's nice to pair up TV with some benefit if you can but it's primarily a babysitter.

  3. There's theory, and then there's real life. Do what works for you and your family. I don't think any real harm can come to your children when you are so deliberate and conscientious about the choices you make.

  4. Oh, we rely on TV way more than I ever intended. Calliou and Bob are big hits. And, at least you are implying that TV is not something we just do all day, that it is special, for relaxation, or whatever. I say use whatever rewards work for your child.

  5. I'm with Betty 100%. There is theory and there is real life. And there are also some things that are hot issues for parents. (Like TV and video games and Disney and pacifiers and potty training.) It's always something. I think the bottom line is that you love your kids and you're doing what's best for them.

    Also, I really appreciated this line, "When you believe you have nothing to Lose or Gain, you will try anything at all for a moment of satisfaction, relief...or revenge." That's given me a lot to think about.

  6. I'm with Betty, too. She sounds like she knows what she's talking about. Listen to her, I'm an idiot.

  7. Just don't show him The Jersey Shore =)


Your thoughts are welcome here. As long as they are kind. Or maybe just not unkind.