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Rewarding?

59 comments | August 6th, 2012

(by Mir)

Pardon me while I settle myself down on my porch and shake my cane at passersby. All young whippersnappers should probably steer clear of me for their own safety. It's not that I mean to be cranky, it's that I'm suddenly feeling quite old and fed up with today's award-based messages to our kids.

There's no shortage of stories about the travesty that is the American need for everyone to be a winner. Participate in a sport? Get a trophy! Participate in a contest? Get a ribbon! Participate in some other random thing? Here's your certificate of participation! No one is special when everyone is. We've spoon-fed our kids the need to "get" something every single time they bother to get out of bed. And then we wonder why they feel unfulfilled, unmotivated, or generally directionless.

None of this is news, of course. And I have tried, with my own kids, to do the "right" things: praise their efforts, but not too much; reward for actual accomplishments, but not feel the need to reward everything; extoll the virtues of intangibles like teamwork and creativity and persistence rather than whether they bring home an object which can (and will) collect dust. It doesn't matter. A culture of prizes means I'm swimming against a strong current in this particular area.

I expect this in the classroom (sadly). I expect this in various organized activities. Not a lot surprises me anymore when it comes to overt or implicit messages to my children that the prize is the thing, but yesterday I just about fell over from disbelief… at the orthodontist.

THE ORTHODONTIST.

I couldn't make this stuff up, people. If there was ever any doubt in my mind that as parents we are waging a war when trying to raise up the next generation to be happy and kind and fulfilled, there was the evidence right there next to the model of the human jaw.

Both of my children have been seeing this orthodontist for five years, ever since we first moved to Georgia. Both of my children have already had braces, though for various reasons which are irrelevant to the matter at hand, my youngest had what's referred to "phase one" treatment (as an elementary schooler) and my oldest had "phase two" treatment (in middle school). This means my youngest is still losing/growing some teeth, and has to be periodically checked to see if they think he'll need a second set of braces once he finishes cultivating his adult choppers. Because I'm trying to be a good parent, I take him in for a check every six months or so, as directed.

Now, it's bad enough that most orthodontists' offices nowadays are replete with video games and computer stations and other expensive diversions to keep kids happy while they wait. Picture me shaking my cane as I assure you that back in my day, when waiting at the orthodontist you could either watch cartoons on the tiny 12" television (which seemed a real luxury at the time) or read a magazine. I don't know why kids can't wait a few minutes without their own personal computer gaming station, but whatever. My children both have beautiful smiles, now, thanks to this orthodontist. I think they do good work.

But today when I was trying to check out and make an appointment for my son's next visit, the woman behind the desk suddenly whipped out something that looked like a credit card and handed it to my kid, while saying in a way-too-excited tone of voice, "And THIS is your new REWARDS CARD!" Then she handed him a piece of paper detailing all of the ways he can earn points that go onto his card.

He gets points for every visit. Points for making his next appointment. Points for losing a baby tooth. Points for a cavity-free dentist visit. Points for remembering to bring his card with him. Points for having points. Lord. The whole thing was completely ridiculous.

And he was utterly mesmerized. Because he thought it was the greatest thing ever, and with enough points, he can trade them in for things like gift cards to the book store.

I was disgusted, and also really annoyed that I wasn't asked if we wanted to participate or not. The assumption was that of course we would want to, and that we would view this as a hugely positive opportunity. And now that he has the card, I figure my best course of action is just to pretend I've forgotten all about it… and hope he does, too. I mean, it's not that there's anything wrong with being able to earn some rewards, I guess, but WHY? His reward for going to the orthodontist is that… he has straight teeth. Does he really need an external motivation for doing all of the normal self-care things he needs to do anyway? And P.S., it's not like middle schoolers are driving themselves to the orthodontist—they're going to go to these appointments because their parents have prioritized these things and get them there. And don't even get me started on rewarding them for losing baby teeth; congratulations, you… followed a biological imperative over which you have no control! Good job! Here's your medal!

Please stop rewarding kids for just existing. It devalues their real accomplishments, and sends the message that nothing is worth doing unless there's something shiny to take home at the end. Some things—lots of things, really—have to be done just because they have to be done. That's called life. I can think or no faster path to generalized dissatisfaction with life than this sort of gimme-the-prize indoctrination.

Now get off my lawn.

Am I being touchy? It's not just me, right? All these rewards for regular stuff is the fast path to losing your happy?

(get more Mir here.  It's very rewarding.)
 

59 comments

  • Randi

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    I absolutely agree with you Mir. Children today expect far, far too much – they don’t know what it’s like to have to work for things anymore. I almost think that sometimes the people like those at the ortho instigate these reward programs because they know that the parents will drop the ball and are trying to fix it. So many parents just don’t care – I agree with you that it’s a problem, but I have no idea how to fix it.

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  • Debbie

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    Okay good, I’m not the only one. Our guy started this too, after son #2 and I both finished our rounds of treatments. Nuts I say.

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  • liz

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    They ought to be giving YOU the rewards card is what.

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  • Diane

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    I’ll join you on the porch, if I can find the glass holding my teeth.

    This is creeping into the adult realm as well, in large part because the first wave of kids treated this way are starting to … age. I can’t use the word mature, sadly.

    “Prizes” get used up or tossed out. Self satisfaction and character last forever. No contest as to which makes you happier and more fulfilled in the long run.

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  • karen

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    That rewards system is utterly ridiculous… your points are all valid, and also, who needs something ridiculous like this to keep track of!?.. which your kid is going to want you to do because.. there are PRIZES!…

    There are only magazines and HS yearbooks to browse at our Ortho. No computer, no TV. NO rewards cards either, thankfully.

    Well said, Mir. Now here’s a question. This lawn we’re all standing on?… will one of your kids mow it when old enough, without compensation? My son mows our lawn and he gets paid by the hour to do so. BUT… we also think we’ve made a bit of a mistake, in that .. aren’t there some things teens should do around the house just because they are living here and part of the family? We go back and forth on this…

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    • Mir

      Posted on August 7, 2012

      FWIW, we had a family meeting about chores and worked out a system here that seems to be working. There are certain things that have to happen every week (some every day things as well, like cooking and dishes) to keep the household running, and we managed to divvy up those chores in a way that works for us according to age/ability/specialty/etc. Various things get rotated (the kids take turns loading and unloading the dishwasher, for example), and each week we can look at the chart to see who does what. Somewhat “bigger” but less frequent tasks, like mowing the lawn and mopping the kitchen, are “reward” tasks for which the kids can earn extra money. I see nothing wrong with paying them for certain more extensive jobs, given that there’s (for us) always a baseline of “you just pitch in because that’s what we do” tasks, too.

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      • meghann @ midgetinvasion

        Posted on August 7, 2012

        This has been a HUGE problem in our household. Because what do you do when “You just pitch in because that’s what we do” doesn’t work? With my kids, we’ve tried EVERYTHING. We’ve taken away privileges galore, and they just. . .don’t care. We took away electronics, they read books. Took away books (which felt. . .wrong), they just found other things to do. We could take away every single thing they own, and they will happily play imaginary games together. I LOVE that my kids are so smart and creative, but it makes things hard.

        I instigated a reward system where they earn tickets for doing things. Any things, because at this point, I didn’t know what to do. They turn in the tickets to be able to do things, like have an hour on the computer. The system is probably your worst nightmare, Mir, but I’m at wit’s end.

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        • suburbancorrespondent

          Posted on August 7, 2012

          No, meghann, it works. You are still essentially withholding things they love until they do things they hate; you are just packaging it differently. I love that – chore points required to use the computer.

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        • Midj

          Posted on August 7, 2012

          Meghann, it really is frustrating when nothing seems to work. Our solution was to decide what *we* were willing to do. I will cook when the dishes are loaded/unloaded from the dishwasher as I need them for the meal. I will do laundry when it is in the laundry room/basket. I am willing to drive you to your playdate, practice, lesson, etc. when you have taken care of what is needed to be done. It is very difficult, at first, to not make dinner/allow them to make something themselves or to let them wear dirty clothes/uniforms but it works very quickly if you stick to it. Consistency and a united front with my husband was key. A great resource is _Children the Challenge_ by Rudolf Dreikurs. It has great ideas for natural/logical consequences for behavior modifications. A little out of date (as you can’t make a child walk 3 miles to school if they miss the bus, for example) but I found it a wonderful resource.

          And Mir, I completely agree with your message.

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        • Mir

          Posted on August 8, 2012

          I’m a fan of whatever works, Meghann. πŸ˜‰ And I agree with suburbancorrespondent, it’s the same thing, different package. Good for you for figuring out your kids’ currency!

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    • Chris

      Posted on August 9, 2012

      I agree, I am a teen and sometimes I feel like I am doing things for no reason. I clean the garage, take care of a garden, grill and other jobs. But I know I don’t deserve a reward for everything I do. If I don’t clean the garage, my car gets stuck. If I don’t watch the garden, I don’t get fresh food that’s enjoyable. Everything I do keeps the house running. For the work I do, I’m in paradise. I have food every day and this computer I’m typing on. I live here do a little work and get food, what a life.

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  • CJ

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    I’m not sure if it would make me feel better or worse that they want to shower your kids with gifts…using the money that you’ve paid them for orthodontic services. It’s kinda like a rebate?

    But yeah, rewards for shuffling along with the rest of the herd through the processes of life that simply get you from point A to point B has always rubbed me the wrong way.

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  • Jen W.

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    You are not the only one and now fortunately, I know I am not the only one. It is getting ridiculous. Seriously, where does it stop, if they get rewarded for losing a baby tooth what is next?

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  • Amy

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    The only treat I ever got from the dentist was a 10 cent toy from the treasure chest. The reward card seems a bit much.

    I don’t even have children and I’m amazed at all the participation rewards that children receive. I can guarantee that not a single “thanks for being on the team” trophy will enter my house once I have children though. And you can all hold me to it! I don’t feel like you should be praised for doing something you should have done or would have done anyway.

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    • My Kids Mom

      Posted on August 7, 2012

      Ah, we say that, but when 11 kids on the team are eating cupcakes and being told what a great asset to they team they were, as they’re handed their trophy… where will you and your child be? At home? Saying “Thanks anyway, but I’ll pass”? As a parent, my opinion of this practice and my participation in this practice are at odds. I try to practice my beliefs in the home, but I don’t make my kids turn away the rewards they’re given just as Mir isn’t going to take away Monkey’s card.

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  • Therese

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    Oh, I so agree with Diane. My kids have trophies and ribbons ranging from preschool soccer to high school sports and activities. And guess who gets them in their attic when the kids move out???? I’ve been tossing these for a while, and no one has seemed to notice. I doubt they ever will :)

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  • Headless Mom

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    Last year our school started giving out medals and trophies for scoring in certain levels on the state tests. That are federally mandated. A large percentage of the school scores advanced or higher on the test-like 80% or more. So how exactly is it an award when the teachers feed the kids the test the day before so they can score higher? And what about that 20% or lower? That’s the opposite message. Most of those kids have a LD and have extreme difficulty taking tests in the first place, so Hey! Feel shittier about something you can’t control!

    *headdesk*

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  • Trish

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    My 1st grader had difficulty following directions at school (probably because she was bored) and the guidance counselor’s suggestion was to reward (bribe) her for behaving. Which worked for a couple of months. And then didn’t. Guidance counselor then suggested increasing the bribery. My kid is only 7 and already expects “rewards” for everything.

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  • MelissaB

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    I may be in the minority, but this sort of thing doesn’t really bother me. I remember having braces, they hurt! I also remember dreading the appointments because I was anticipating the pain and also because I was almost always chided for not wearing my headgear or flossing incorrectly around the braces. An immediate (or nearly so) incentive may have led me to participate in my own care more appropriately, the prospect of straightened teeth was too distant for me to recognize as an 11 year old. Other than the points for losing baby teeth, it sounds like it is an opportunity based on behavior rather than just a gift for doing nothing. My kids haven’t really been exposed to this, we homeschool and didn’t do organized sports beyond a weekly phys ed program, perhaps if it were more prevalent in our lives, it would be a bother?

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    • Mir

      Posted on August 7, 2012

      Melissa, I think you bring up a valid point about the reinforcement on something that’s kind of loathsome. I will still agree to disagree with you, but I see what you’re saying (and I’m sure that’s their motivation).

      As the mom of one homeschooler and one public schooler, I can tell you that it is INESCAPABLE in more mainstream kids’ circles. Maybe I just reached capacity. Heh.

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      • ruchi

        Posted on August 7, 2012

        So, in terms of general principle, Mir, I COMPLETELY agree with you. I think the whole reward culture is totally ridiculous and completely out of hand. However, in this particular instance, I guess I find the orthodontist and the dentist so loathsome that I’m inclined to agree with Melissa.

        I do wonder if my orthodontist way back when had given me points for flossing regularly, if I would be a better and more regular flosser now than I am now. And the same for wearing my retainer, which I never did. (And as a result, as an adult, my teeth are ever so slightly crooked and I still don’t care! Sorry parents who spent a boatload of money, I guess the joke’s on you.) I guess I feel like if as an adult I still haven’t received my comeuppance, and I still don’t feel sufficiently frightened about root canals to floss daily, I’m kinda okay bribing my kid into better dental hygiene, especially if it’s dental hygiene habits that might last them their whole adult life.

        Also, I will note, as food for thought, that as an adult, I fully bribe myself to do things that I otherwise really, really don’t want to do. Exercise five days a week for a month? Then I’ll buy myself that cute blouse I’ve been eyeing. Eat healthy all week? I’ll reward myself by allowing myself to eat cake at the birthday party on Saturday. Actually, right now, since you’ve written this post, I’m seriously considering bribing myself to floss daily. I don’t think I’m the only adult that does this, and I don’t think I’m a bad person for occasionally ‘bribing’ myself to do things I don’t want to do. I think sometimes we all need carrots, and the difference is adults have the ability to give themselves carrots.

        So yeah, I completely and totally agree with you on the reward culture in general, but if my dentist starts offering me Amazon rewards to floss my teeth, I am ALL OVER THAT. πŸ˜‰

        But rewards for losing your baby teeth is BS.

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        • Jill W.

          Posted on August 7, 2012

          I agree with you ruchi. Hate the award culture generally, but dental stuff is so unpleasant, rewards are justified. As for a reward for losing baby teeth, we all do that at home, via the tooth fairy. And if a reward at the dentist or orthodontist would inspire my child to actually wiggle the tooth and pull it rather than letting it dangle precariously and losing her mind when I try to pull it, sign me up!

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  • Flannery

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    Awesome, awesome post. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Believe me, I’m sick of all the sticker charts we’ve got going on at our house, and sometimes when my son asks “what do I get” for doing something, I’m sooooo tempted to say “you get to live.”

    But I don’t. I should get a reward for that.

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  • Gayle

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    Slightly off topic, but I was “shaking my cane” this weekend as well. The sports teams in my area stand on the island in the middle of the road, or by the entrance to my local Publix and hold out a football helmet for donations. The kids didn’t even approach and ask politely, they just held out the helmet. What are kids learning?

    Offer to wash my car, sell me some overpriced wrapping paper or make some effort to EARN the money for the program. I am happy to help, but I can’t support teaching kids that you don’t have to work for things you want.

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    • bryan

      Posted on August 7, 2012

      Publix has a very strict no soliciting policy, so if they are doing this on the property, the manager will tell them to leave. Even the Girl Scouts aren’t allowed to peddle at Publix.

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      • Gayle

        Posted on August 14, 2012

        Thanks, Bryan. I didn’t know about that policy. I guess our local managers aren’t following that rule because the sports team was at the other Publix this weekend.

        We also get lots of charities and the Girl Scouts. I don’t mind charities or groups that are selling something or working to earn money, only the private teams that essentially beg because it doesn’t support the real world lesson that you have to work to earn things that want.

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  • Heather

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    Reminds me of the day that my behaviorally challenged step daughter was asked to take an empty laundry basket downstairs to be ready for the next load of clothes. She dropped to the floor and wailed, “Why are you punishing me? I was good this week!” Since this child’s definition of “good” would get anyone else expelled from school, we had no sympathy for her. She thinks all chores are punishments and so far explaining that “We let you live here for free” isn’t sinking in yet. She can do special chores for extra money (weeding, etc) but thinks we are horrible for not paying her to do routine things.

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  • mamalang

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    I’m on the fence about the rewards. Some things don’t bother me, but some things do. Awards for attendance and doing well in school…go for it. When my kids were on little kids soccer teams, I loved that everyone got the same thing since it was truly a non-competitive league (I would have preferred a certificate or something like that over a trophy, but whatever.)

    However, my son moved up in the little league this year, and part of the season for this level is “instructional” and doesn’t count for anything, and then the rest is “competitive” and standings are kept. My sons team managed to finish the season undefeated. Then there was a tournament. They won, but the league gave both the first and second place teams the same trophies, because you are all winners. That irked me, and it would have if we had lost and came in second. I don’t disagree with the trophies…I just wish they had a different one for the second place team.

    My kids and I have discussions about this, and we relate it to household chores. You live here, you help, and you don’t get a reward for managing your own existence.

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    • meghann @ midgetinvasion

      Posted on August 7, 2012

      Ooh, this brought up a sore point: attendance awards. I get the thinking behind them, but don’t agree with them. When my oldest was in public school he was really upset one year because he didn’t get any awards, not even that one. We’d had a death in the family and he missed school for the funeral. It’s like getting an award for not having a death in the family or serious illness. “Congratulations, no one died!”

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      • 12tequilas

        Posted on August 7, 2012

        meghann, YES. You know there have to be kids who want to win the attendance award and are coming in to school even when they are sick. Or who balk over celebrating a religious holiday with the family. Not cool.

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    • My Kids Mom

      Posted on August 7, 2012

      There were two 5th graders who got fancy tall trophy styled attendance awards for never missing a day since kindergarten. Well, one for a fact is a kid who’s mom really needs a break from him. I think she’d send him sick if it got her some breathing time. And she probably did.

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    • Jessica

      Posted on August 7, 2012

      I work at a college prep school (upper elementary through high school level) and we do not have attendance awards for one huge reason: we do not want kids coming to school sick. This is a school where most of them love coming in and try to come in sick WITHOUT the “bonus” of the attendance award (H1N1-time was terrible). We definitely do not want to create the monster of “I have to go in! I won’t get perfect attendance!” We also realize that there are things that students need to miss for (weddings, funerals, religious holidays that do not fall during school breaks), so we really don’t want to make them that those things are less important than perfect attendance. We stress the so-called well-rounded students (good grades, co-curricular activities such as athletics or math league or knowledge bowl, and service to your community) and do have awards for those things.

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  • TC

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    This isn’t the kids’ fault; the kids aren’t demanding this kind of stupidity. It’s the adults. The adults who set up these programs; the adults who deem that no child should be without an award no matter what they do and where they are; the adults who push these things on the kids and teach them to expect it.

    There are areas in which I appreciate a nice recognition for my kid…I like that there are ways in which N, for instance, can be rewarded for simple things like raising his hand and speaking in class (with a teacher’s choice award, at his school) since he’ll never win an academic award. But he should only get that if he actually does something above and beyond the norm.

    For the same reason, your orthodontist’s plan would PISS ME OFF. Because my developmentally delayed kid is GLOBALLY developmentally delayed…which means he got his first tooth at 13 months, didn’t lose one until the third grade, and still has most of his baby teeth. He doesn’t know or care, of course…except he would if it were POINTED OUT TO HIM by his dentist every time he came into the office! Insane…

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  • Alece Chanel

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    I LOVE this post! I workin a high school as a social worker and these kids are rewarded for just showing up to school! Its the most rediculous concept ever. When children are constantly motivated by an outside reward rather than an intrinsic need to perform or excel it creates real little monsters that grow up feeling very deserving and really irrational. In church every kid has an i-pad or is playing with their parents phones. What happened to the days of sit and be quiet because its the right thing to do? What happened to the days where parents were proud of their children’s REAL accomplishments such as being good honest people versus the trival of giving a kid a snack because he didnt whine not once in the grocery store? Loved the article. Keep them coming:)

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  • Arnebya

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    I thought my pediatrician even more wonderful when she stopped giving out stickers or toys at the end of the visit and began giving books. Reward? Maybe? But, it’s a book; I can’t/won’t complain about a book. Now. A rewards card for the orthodontist? Um, no. The reward, as you’ve said, Mir, is good oral hygiene habits and straight teeth. Perhaps they are overly interested in making kids feel like they’re working toward something (adults get bonus/rewards points for nearly everything now, too). But again, they ARE working toward something: getting the metal out of their mouths and not having teeth like the Gremlin Spike.

    I feel this way at home, too. I am not paying for chores because this is everyone’s house and I don’t see the logic in paying you to do something you should be doing anyway. Or grades. I WILL NOT PAY YOU FOR GOOD GRADES. There is an expectation for good grades. You meet or exceed that expectation. You are not rewarded for doing something that is expected to begin with. I am reminded of the scene in The Incredibles where the parents are having a disagreement and Elastagirl says she can’t believe Mr. Incredible doesn’t want to go to his own son’s graduation. He says something like it’s not a graduation, it’s an unnecessary promotional exercise and it’s a celebration of mediocrity.

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  • Sara

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    I am sitting in the choir and you are preaching to me, girl! Huzzah and hallelujah! I can’t abide how kids are rewarded for their sheer existence these days. It makes me think of the line by the villain in “The Incredibles” who says “…when everyone is special, then NOBODY will be!” After watching all the marvelous athletes in the Olympics this past week, I can’t help but wonder what they think of the whole “reward everybody” mindset out there these days.

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  • kim/TheMakerMom

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    Sadly, I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better as “gamification” is one of the next big things. Frankly, I want to throw up whenever I ear the term. Have you read Alfie Kohn’s book, Punished by Rewards? I think you’d like it.

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  • Tracy B

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    Finally someone said it outloud. It’s like t-ball, EVERYONE gets a trophy and EVERYONE wins. B.S.

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  • Deirdre

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    I read this while my daughter was brushing her teeth before her orthodontist appointment this afternoon. I would lose it if they implemented a rewards program like that. They can earn tickets for monthly drawings if they brush well and wear the tacky t-shirts to their ortho visits, but that’s it. I do have my own incentive program ready to go, though–if the ortho says (again!) that she is not brushing well, I’m ready to make her pay for one month’s installment of braces payments. Ugh.

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  • jen_alluisi

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    I think it’s a tricky line to walk. Positive reinforcement has been proven to be hands-down the best method of getting consistent good behaviors in most cases (for kids and adults and pets alike). I think attendance awards and such started as positive reinforcement to get kids not to skip school; certainly awarding an allowance or monetary reward for chores or good grades is positive reinforcement for those behaviors. (Those of you who can’t get over the reward-for-losing-baby-teeth bit – did you play tooth fairy to your kids? I know my mom did. What’s the difference?)

    I think the line that is so often crossed is when we interpret positive reinforcement as exclusively meaning “getting stuff.” Positive reinforcement can be verbal praise, a hug, or giving your kid the chance to choose a family activity one evening or weekend. I know that for my dogs, they want to be petted and called “good girl!” or “good boy!” They also want a treat, and they will perform for a treat…but they’ll also come when they’re called because they know it means they might get a belly rub. People are the same way, but we as a society seem to have forgotten all of the non-materialistic ways to give positive reinforcement. And that’s truly a shame.

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    • Jessica

      Posted on August 7, 2012

      It’s so interesting that you mention this, because you brought back to my mind one of my education classes where we discussed intrinsic vs. extrinsic values and rewards. As teachers, we were cautioned against using extrinsic rewards (gifts, candy, tangible things) very often and were told to use the students’ own sense of satisfaction if at all possible.

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  • diane

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    Oh, I immediately read this particular example falling more into the “We are priming you to be a consumer!” than the “Here’s a reward for everything” category. You know, like cashback points on your credit card. Or how the Vitamin Shoppe wants to give me my own very special rewards card for every time I make a purchase! Buy buy buy! Keep coming back to your orthodontist, even long after your teeth are straight!

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  • Groovecatmom

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    Our orthodontist uses “wooden nickels” that the kids accumulate and can trade in for prizes…I still maintain that *I* should be the one rewarded, like you. Who drives them to make sure they are on time? Who nags them to floss? Who actually cares whether or not their enamel erodes if they drink too much soda? Who pays the dang bill? My child wasn’t convinced when I told him he should trade them in for a Starbucks card for his mother. :) This system irks me. The only real value I get is $10 off our ortho balance when our dental hygienist signs a paper that they have had a cleaning. Has saved me about $50 so far. Woo. Meanwhile the ortho also begs us to “like” him on Facebook. Sorry, not going to do marketing for you on top of everything else…Here are some virtual wooden nickels for you, Mir! Because you rock!

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  • pharmgirl

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    My kid trained all summer for a junior triathlon. He got a bronze in his age group.
    He got a nice little medal.
    So did every other kid.
    Regardless of their times or placement, every child left with a medal.

    The reward was having your name called.
    WTH?

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  • bryan

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    My go-to reward for doing something around the house is a hug. Typically, this bounty is for finding my keys, cleaning your room, getting your laundry up. We also get to go do fun things when the chores are done. That said, I did offer & pay a $5 reward to my son when he got rid of the “floatie pack” at the YMCA camp. He was VERY discouraged & thought it could never be done. Having that reward got him to shake the discouragement and go further. Cheap “reward bin” rewards are trash, overused incentives become ineffective, but the well-timed reward can be a great thing.

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  • Dawn

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    You are not being touchy. You are calling a spade a spade.

    There has been far too much rewarding kids for simply existing. I saw this in spades when I worked in local community theatre. Kids (mid-20s down) expect a pat on the back simply for showing up. Some of them seem to believe ‘I want, therefore I must have.’ We had one young fella want to be in a musical, despite the fact that he was unable to attend ANY rehearsals. “But I know the music! My mom owns the record! I’ve been singing along since I was little!” He seemed utterly confused by the word, ‘no’. It didn’t seem to compute at all. After numerous emails and phone calls, all of which were met with ‘sorry, but no,’ he showed up at a rehearsal on his way to work, still unable to understand why he couldn’t just show up for the shows. I attempted to explain to him by running the list of all the details he knew nothing about because of not being able to rehearse, (blocking, entrances, exits, costume, lines in addition to song lyrics, which version of the libretta we were working from, which range he should sing in, which songs did he sing) he still looked totally perlexed that I was telling him no. He didn’t even know enough about the show to be useful on the crew, never mind onstage. To this day, I doubt he understands. To his credit he was always polite. I suppose I’m lucky he didn’t get violent or start screaming at me.

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  • Lara T.

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    Totally with you Mir! This stuff drives me crazy. My eldest did a local skating program for $10. This money went – not to the volunteers that taught them – not to the people who cared for the local outdoor rink – but to an end-of-season (2 months!) party with a Trophy for everyone who participated!!! Ugh! What an enevironmental waste. And what message does this send?? I think the dentists, doctors, orthodontists, and all the other specialists should leave it up to mom and dad to provide incentives – if they feel it is necessary.

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  • The Other Leanne

    Posted on August 7, 2012

    And here is how this plays out In Real Life…I have someone on my staff who clearly thinks he deserves a trophy/pay increase/pat on the head/rewards card for doing his job. His JOB. Parents, please, please, do not raise your children to think this way. Do the rest of us a favor and raise them to want to be more, to do more, for the sheer personal gratification of doing well and going home tired but happy. They should expect to start at the bottom and work their way up, pay their dues, with no expectation of reward beyond a paycheck and an opportunity to make a difference. The gold watch comes at the end, not at the beginning.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on August 8, 2012

    Couldn’t agree more. A couple of summers ago we signed my son up for a little computer camp at the Apple store. My son got there, promptly fell apart and wanted to leave, which was fine by me. As we were walking out one of the employees said, “Would he like his certificate”? I pointed out that he actually hadn’t done anything and was met with a blank stare. Actually accomplishing something was completely beside the point.

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  • Erinn

    Posted on August 8, 2012

    It doesn’t really sound much different than what we’ve come to expect as adults. I don’t shop without using my grocery rewards card…where I get gas points and extra discounts just for grocery shopping at a particular store. I go to ice cream places and restaurants that have punch cards or loyalty cards. I tell other people about awesome living social deals so I get more deal bucks and FREE stuff. It does seem a little crazy, but when I stop to think about it…I’m teaching my kids all the same things when I say, “No, let’s go to Red Robin instead because we have a free burger on our rewards card.”

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    • jen_alluisi

      Posted on August 9, 2012

      Yeah, but that’s all for marketing purposes. You’re not getting something for nothing; you’re getting something for giving your business to a particular commercial entity and/or for marketing that entity to others. Getting a reward for, say, doing your homework at school is an entirely different matter.

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  • Naomi

    Posted on August 8, 2012

    I agree with you…partly. And here was my response to someone else who posted that they were afraid of a world run by kids who were awarded just for showing up.

    http://spectrumom.blogspot.com/2012/08/trophies-for-just-participating.html

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  • Babycakes

    Posted on August 8, 2012

    Dawn, I completely feel you on the “I should be allowed to perform because I want to, not because I actually worked at it…” I teach aerial skills at a youth circus, and every year they have their big spring show. After choreographing four damn aerial acts trying to factor in different ages and skill levels and still make sure that everyone got their “moment” (because heaven forbid we more heavily feature the kids who have been coming longer, worked harder, and have more technical skill), I get an e mail from the class co-ordinator. Apparently, little Susie’s (not a real name, just in case, haha!) parents are very concerned because she only gets to do ONE trick in her act, and everyone else gets to do TWO, and that isn’t FAIR, and can we please re-arrange the whole ten-child act so that Susie gets to do TWO tricks? Never mind that little Susie is in three other damn acts and gets plenty of stage time. Never mind that little Susie can barely do one skill without getting tired and giving up, let alone two. Never mind that this will teach her that you don’t actually have to work hard to get something, you just have to ask and someone will give it to you. Never mind that little Susie can actually only attend two of the six shows. *fume* No, no. Let’s just perpetuate this culture of entitlement and mediocrity.
    You kids get off my trapeze! *waves cane*

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  • Pam

    Posted on August 13, 2012

    I totally agree with you! My son just participated in a baseball tournament, and got a 3rd place trophy. His first trophy – and man, they earned it! My oldest congratulated him, she thought his trophy was awesome and told him all the trophies she had were for just participating – she never actually EARNED any of them! She was proud that he EARNED his!

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