Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rethink Your Reward Economy

Brat Dollar

Rewards have become a mainstay in the modern parenting toolbox when it comes to coaxing chores and good behavior out of kids. The upside:

  • More compliance.
  • Fewer power struggles.
  • Less nagging.
  • More peaceful family life.

Ahhh. What’s not to like? Well, you may soon find yourself dealing with the dark side:

  • Reward creep.
  • Reward escalation.
  • Lost leverage. (“No thanks. I don’t want the money.”)
  • Disappearing intrinsic motivation.
  • Diminished desire to help others.

This article explains why substituting “market norms” for situations that should be governed by “social norms” leads to an erosion of goodwill.

Fancy behaviorial economics talk aside, here’s the bottom line: while it’s perfectly fine to offer some work-for-pay gigs to the kids, make it darn clear that basic chores and good behavior are simply expected.

The kids’ reward? They get to be a member of the family and — bonus for the rest of us — grow up to become decent, thoughtful human beings.

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