It is a parenting philosophy. How do we choose to encourage our children to do their best? How do we create people who do the right thing because it is the right thing to do? How do we make children intrinsically motivated? How do we make them care? This is a heavy topic and one many parents and teachers disagree over.
Never once have we paid our children for goals, grades or chores. We expected our kids to get good grades because they could. We put their report cards on the refrigerator A’s, B’s and C’s and talked to them about whether or not they did their best. They knew that we valued good grades and doling out money seemed to lessen the lesson of striving to do their best. If you were not going to do it even if you were quite capable, then you would not get the grade. Being motivated by money or prizes for something that should be a responsibility or reward in itself just seemed counter to the end goal. It is not a competition, it is an education. Just like being part of a family means you chip in when asked. I am the same way at school. I rarely give out prizes for little things. Once you start giving out prizes then kids start to ask ‘What do I get?’… in reading group I tell the kids, if they ask about giving out prize,s that the big prize is that they will be better readers! I am not stingy when it comes to high-fives, compliments, hugs or cheers! I celebrate good work and good effort but I want the reward to also come from within. I might say ‘Wow, you must be proud of yourself for working so hard or figuring that out!’
My boys played soccer for many years and I remember parents holding up $5 or $10 bills on the sidelines. So playing your best because other people on your team are counting on you is not motivation enough? You need money? It just doesn’t make sense to me. It also seems to tell the goalie and defenders (who rarely score) that their job on the team is not as valuable as the kids who score. Maybe you never thought about it that way. But the reward for scoring a goal is the joy you feel when you do it and the joy it brings to your team… it is all about trying your best and succeeding.
My kids also never received an allowance. If they needed money they could ask and usually we would give them what they needed. They did jobs around the house because they were part of the family. Not because we paid them. When my son’s grandfather asked him to come and do yard work at his house he offered to pay him. My oldest son would always turn the money down and tell his grandad that he didn’t need to be paid. They usually went back and forth until his grandad insisted… but it did make me proud. Helping out, doing your best, and giving it your all should just be part of who you are… Let’s raise children who are intrinsically rather than extrinsically motivated. Children like that grow up to be adults who want to improve society just because that is a reward in itself… they might even become teachers! 😉