That’s how much I just paid for both of my kids (5 and 7) to play basketball for the first time this winter. Whether that’s a good price or not, is not my concern. My concern is this growing trend among other parents in rewarding their kids for doing things that they paid for them to do.
This is a growing trend that I have witnessed now on numerous occasions.
Let me set the scene. I am a Dad, at a soccer practice for five-year-old children. This soccer practice is for a team that I have paid money for my child to play on, at the request of my child. We want them to be active and socialize, but I do not force specific sports on them. If I did, they would be all crying on the ice three days a week, but as of right now, the ice did not sit well with them. But, soccer does! They love soccer, and request to play it.
So, I am at practice, and like any kid (mine included), there are occasions where kids can get a little whiney. Especially because practice is DURING dinner, so the pre-practice snack starts to wear thin sometimes.
The issue arises when the parent corrects the whining. I will give you an example of my conversation, with my child:
“Hey, you wanted to play soccer, right? Are you being a good teammate by whining and listening to the coach?”
(They know the answer is no)
“So, buck up and finish practice. OR – we don’t need to play soccer next year if you can’t be respectful to your team and coaches.”
Situation is resolved (sometimes begrudgingly, but hey they’re kids) and practice continues.
Here’s where I lose all sense of reality:
Parent: “Hey, listen I need you to stop whining and have a good practice, and if you do – I will buy you a toy from the store on the way home.”
You mean to tell me, that you’re teaching your child that if they do not behave at something you paid for them to do, that you’re going to reward them with a toy, to do the thing that’s fun!?
This is insane.
Now, let me be clear. I am all for rewarding good behavior, especially when it comes to good behavior doing something that is hard for a child. For instance, If we need to go grocery shopping, then stop at Lowe's, then get gas and then do some other random boring errand like swap out our old cable box; that sucks! Even I am bored doing that kind of stuff, let alone a 5 – 7 year-old kid. So, if the boring errand is made less difficult, because I have two well behaved kids instead of two little monsters… yea, I will get them a small reward. That reward and parameter is set up ahead of time as well:
“Hey, we are going to these four destinations. It is going to take 2 or 3 hours, OK? If you choose to misbehave, the consequence is going to be X, Y or Z. If you are good, and you have a positive attitude and are helpful during the trip, you will be rewarded with something that I decide.
This usually works fairly well, and in my opinion shows them that if they work at the not so fun things there are rewards in life.
What I cannot get on board with, is the begging and offering of a reward for good behavior for something you’re doing FOR THEM. It’s 50 degrees with 15 MPH winds, and I am sitting at this field watching 5-year-olds muck around with a soccer ball for an hour, which we paid to do: they had better be behaved.
In my mind, it would be as if my boss, at the job at work at was like this:
“Hey Fancy Mike, I know you’re fancy and all but, you keep coming in late. If you start coming in on time, I will give you a raise and a bonus.
No. No. No. No. No. That’s not how the real world works. You get rewarded for working hard and going above and beyond, not by doing what is just expected of you. Now, some of you may argue that doing a bunch of errands and being behaved should be expected of kids, and you’re not wrong. But, I do find that a little positive reinforcement on the good behavior has gone a long way. To the point where now they understand that if they go above and beyond and are well behaved, usually good things come there way. If they’re not, there are swift and appropriate consequences.
Which, as I write this, will probably be my next post: Consequence Theory.
It’s a crazy world being a Dad, but don’t make it worse by rewarding your kids for doing something fun you paid for them to do.
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