Rewards instead of punishments might get desired results
I was strolling through the store with my youngest when he caught sight of The Red Ninja Halloween costume.
Now, he is normally not one to beg, nor do I tolerate incessant pleading or whining, but this year I am ashamed to say—I caved.
I normally make the children’s costumes in an effort to save money, but this year I found myself with the month nearly half over and my sewing machine covered with already-promised repairs.
After careful scrutiny and discussion, the Red Ninja costume, complete with sword, found its way into the shopping cart. I hung my head in shame that I didn’t have more willpower. I had succumbed to the bargaining of a 5-year-old.
However, once we got home, I realized the powers this little costume actually had. We were barely in the door when an argument broke out between children. After a quick trial and verdict, I determined the perpetrator was my young son.
The penalty came easily. The cherished Red Ninja Costume had to remain in the bag with the tags still on it. It could not be removed nor tampered with, but hang in full view of the guilty as a reminder of the crime.
Every night my child would ask if he had “served his time,” and eventually got to try on the treasured costume. If fit him perfectly, and made my little man look like a true fighter. He vowed that he would be good so that he could wear the prized uniform out trick or treating. I smiled at the thought of a well-behaved child.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long until he found himself balking at bedtime. The costume was once again hung up, in full view, with the tags still on it. I threatened to return it to the store, but agreed to give the boy a chance to redeem himself.
For one entire week, he has been the first child in the house into bed without having to be told more than once. His manners have improved and his overall attitude about unpleasant things has been bearable.
All because of that Red Ninja Costume.
I have let him wear it around the house on occasion, but the tags have remained on it “just in case.” He has told me on more than one occasion that when he gets upset and wants to act inappropriate, he thinks about the Red Ninja costume and turns the behavior around on his own.
Many times we punish children for misbehaving or acting improper. I agree that on many occasions, it is necessary to punish a child. Bad behavior should not be overlooked and I believe that bad behavior should result in bad consequences.
However, the inverse is also true and should be remembered as well. A reward for something done well might actually elicit the desired actions as well.
Good behavior will result in good rewards—namely, a Red Ninja costume.