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Not to reward my dd for her accomplishments?

(100 Posts)
Jinsei Sat 12-Jan-13 19:20:02

DD is lucky, and does very well at lots of things. She has plenty of natural talent, but she works hard and listens to her teachers too. As a result, she achieves well in several different spheres. We are proud of her and she knows it.

Her latest achievement was an excellent result in a recent dance exam, and the nice lady who helps on the desk told me that "she definitely deserves a present for that." It was just a throwaway remark, but I know of many parents who do actually reward their kids with gifts or treats for work well done.

I was always brought up to believe that the reward is in the achievement itself. DD is thrilled with her results, and I don't see how a material reward or treat would increase her happiness or sense of achievement. To me, the good results are enough.

I am unlikely to change my stance on this, so perhaps not a genuine AIBU as I'm convinced that I'm not! Nevertheless, I'm curious to know if I am in a minority on this one, or if most parents would agree. So do you reward your kids for their accomplishments, or do you think that the reward is in the achievement itself.

twofingerstoGideon Sun 13-Jan-13 14:07:18

I would have been firmly in the 'no' camp before this year. However, watching your 'gifted and talented' DC with GCSE target grades of As in every subject lose motivation, slip further and further behind, etc. is really awful, so I am considering offering bribes incentives for good grades for the first time ever. It would be lovely to think it's unnecessary, but lots of teenagers seem to lose sight of their goals just at the time it really matters, so I think a reward - or whatever else it takes - may help. I am not proud of doing this, but I don't want her to bugger up her future and if incentivising her to work a bit harder gets results I'm willing to give it a go. Not very happy about it really, but there you go...

VariousBartimaeus Sun 13-Jan-13 13:29:02

I'm trying to remember what my parents did.

I did various activites (sport and music) which involved competitions and exams. I think generally if I did well I was praised in a "we're proud of you" way and of course, winning a race or passing a music exam is a reward in itself.

I do remember getting a cuddly toy I'd been drooling over when we got my music theory results - I think my mum chose to buy me something for this exam as it was something I hated doing (but was necessary to continue practical music grades), and had to work hard at including when away on holiday. I was so surprised and chuffed and still have it today smile

I think apart from that my parents tended to celebrate the end of exams and exam results with a meal out for the family (GCSE and A levels only).

Jollyb Sun 13-Jan-13 13:27:47

I was treated to a trip to pizza hut when I passed my 11 plus - was the coolest restaurant in town in 1989.

ReallyTired Sun 13-Jan-13 13:08:05

I think the world of work and being at school is different. A school child is more akin to a self employed person than an employee. An employee works inorder to benefit their employer where as the only person who benefits from good grades is the child. It makes very little difference to the teacher or even the parents if their little darling gets 10 A*s.

I am not totally against rewards. We used bribary to potty train both my children with great sucess. I think that rewards can occassionally backfire and need to be used with caution.

Jinsei Sun 13-Jan-13 12:55:09

Lots of food for thought here, there have been some interesting comments.

To be fair to the "nice lady", she said it very discreetly and I don't think dd heard her, so she wasn't really setting up any expectations. I think she was just trying to acknowledge the fact that dd had done well.

I like the idea of celebrating with dc, rather than rewarding them per se. Maybe this is something to think about for the future. I also like the idea of rewarding effort before the results are known - seems sensible.

As a boss, I do try to reward special contributions where I can, and I have the discretion to award bonus payments where people have gone over and above what was expected of them. I tend to use these quite liberally, and I am conscious that people appreciate the fact of having been rewarded at least as much as the money itself. It is a very tangible way to acknowledge unusual effort.

I am curious as to why I don't apply the same philosophy to dd at home, and why it feels instinctively wrong for me to do that. I am not quite sure tbh. I guess I feel that her achievements at this age are for her own benefit - academic success will help her in the long term, and she has chosen to do her other activities. This is a bit different from a work situation in which people might be contributing to the achievement of goals that aren't strictly their own.

I think it may also have to do with the desire for dd to know that she is loved unconditionally, as reallytired mentioned earlier. I am not suggesting that those who do reward their kids love them any less unconditionally, but for me, it would feel rather as if they had to earn my approval and I am not quite comfortable with that. I tend to treat dd every now and then "just because" - she is my daughter and I love her, and I like to see her happy.

But perhaps a more explicit "celebration" for special achievements wouldn't go amiss every now and then.

CecilyP Sun 13-Jan-13 12:34:30

The 'nice lady' was actually overstepping the mark. She doesn't know your circumstances and it is none of her business. For all the nice lady knew, you could be really struggling to pay for the dance lessons and have no spare cash for rewards.

If your dd is good at loads of things, then the 'rewards' thing might prove rather expensive.

badguider Sun 13-Jan-13 12:29:13

I don't really believe in 'rewards' for things like sports or ballet or music exams because surely it's the child's choice to choose to go for that because they want it and getting it should be the 'reward'.

But i DO believe in celebration - I would do a nice meal or cake or other way of celebrating. I guess like if DH got a promotion, i wouldn't give him a reward but i would celebrate his acheivement with him.

jazzcat28 Sun 13-Jan-13 12:22:50

No DC of my own yet, but I was one of those hardworking natural achievers (except PE) but my parents still treated me when I did well. Not for school reports as they thought it was a given I should behave well at school and work hard as a 'normal' behaviour. But if I got a special award or if I got a top mark at a music/dancing exam (i.e. better than a pass) I might have been treated to a pizza hut dinner at the weekend or a new top.

I remember when I was doing GCSEs many of my friends were awarded cash sums for particular grades (e.g. £10 per A*, £9 per A etc). My parents were appalled at this. But when I got my grades (without the promise of money) they took me to town and bought me a load of new clothes ready to start 6th form.

I guess I'm on the fence. It wouldn't cost much though to allow some 'treaty' things at home though would it? E.g. stay up 1hr later on a Friday night, get to choose a nice dessert from the supermarket for pudding, invite a friend over for a sleepover etc?

And of course, words of encouragement and hugs are totally free smile

Viviennemary Sun 13-Jan-13 12:18:49

Even if a child is a high achiever I think the occasional reward is still a good idea.

whois Sun 13-Jan-13 12:12:41

I think it's nice to say "well done" and go out for lunch or dinner or another activity type treat as that's a reward and recognition for the time and effort put in.

Loquace Sun 13-Jan-13 11:40:48

but it is still nice when your boss praises you for a job well done

That's reminded me of something I had completely forgotten about. About a million years ago I was a 19 yo working for a consturction company on Canery Wharf when it was a big muddy hole in the ground.

With a not untypical teenage mentality towards work.

I pulled out the stops (by my standards) on a thing the team was doing, and at the end my boss presented me with a hacking big bottle of posh perfume (Coco, eau di parfam shock ) (those where the days when I thought Body Shop eua di vanilla essence was a luxuary too far for my purse so I was dead impressed by such manna from heaven). He said it was a tocken of his gratitude and recognition of all the "extra" effort I had put it.

My work ethic turned around at the speed of light. I wasn't after more perfume, it was something much more satisfying, more enduring, in that moment when he gave it to me I saw it as tanglible evidence of my worth as a team member and his appreciation of said worth.

I "got it". I saw the value in being, and being seen as a hard worker who went the extra mile. I don't know if he had been a psycologist in a former life or something, but I credit that moment with a seismic shift in my attitude towards work that never left. The crafty bugger grin

I never got any more perfume, from him or anybody else, that wasn't the point for me, my ongoing reward system became linked to my intrinsic motivation to do my job well...becuase it felt good to know I had done well/tried hard, and I knew it wasn't unnoticed and unappreciated.

CheeryCherry Sun 13-Jan-13 10:32:13

Good friends of mine reward grades with money...£15 for A*, £10 for A etc. It does actually make their Dcs work harder, but I could not afford that, and feel uncomfortable about the need to bribe. My DCs would love it though, but its not going to happen!

3birthdaybunnies Sun 13-Jan-13 10:03:45

I do like the idea of rewarding them straight after the exam for the preparation and effort. I've done enough exams to know that although preparation is vital, so is a fair bit of luck, especially with higher exams - if your favourite topics come up then you are laughing, if your nemisis subject comes up then it can pull you down. It is maybe different with ballet exams or similar when you know exactly what you need to do, but even so some of it is down to natural ability, how nervous you are etc. Still think it is important to praise high marks though, as others have said in the world of work, you might get paid to turn up and put in the effort, but it is still nice when your boss praises you for a job well done. Guess even nicer if you get a big bonus but never worked in a bonus culture so I guess it must feel more crushing if for reasons beyond your control you don't hit the target.

Loquace Sun 13-Jan-13 00:43:02

I think that many children see rewards as sign of parental approval/ love even if the parents do love them unconditionally.

Certainly they can if bathed in fulsome praise/reward for each and every mediocre, minor achievement, yes. Because they know that the praise doesn't fit with the degree of effort or goal attained, and worry that their parent has a false image of their capabilities/who they are and if/when the truth is revealed they will be rendered "a disappointment" and somewhat unlovable.

But there are degrees of praise/reward. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. In fact all or nothing has the potential to cause more problems than it seeks to avoid because edging towards extremes leads to blind spots where dogma can take over and blind people to the obvious conflict between what they believe is true, and what is happening right in front of them. As you can see from what some posters are revealing in their posts about how their parents choices resonated with them. I don't doubt those posters' parents had the best of intensions, but it does look like they were less capable of knowing how it would affect their child than they believed themselves to be.

My son at the age of eleven is moviated enough to do best at his school work without having to bribed like one of parlov's dogs.

I think that is a confusion of two separate things.

To set a scale of known rewards like a trial of breadcrumbs in order to modify behaviour is one thing.

To surprise somebody with something in recognition of something that you know they pushed themselves hard to achieve, another.

The second isn't the best cunning plan in the universe in terms of bribery, because it is unknown to the rewardee until post accomplishment and thus paid no part in stimulating the behaviours required to achieve said accomplishment.

Renouncing bribery doesn't mean you have to renounce all and any rewards.

There comes a point moviation has to be instinctive and parents need to back off and offer a different type of support to presents.

The trick there I think is to realise there is no single point. There isn't a magic moment where you can count on letting go and staying let goed. There may be periods, (they may even be long) where a child's intrinsic motivation is high and does the job. But that can wax and wane as kids go through different ages and stages. Or it can appear and vanish based on external events, influences and pressures.

I don't think parents can always afford to be that fussy which tool in the parent tool box they will use in a crisis. And that includes surprise rewards, and yes, even bribery in the short term to get over a hump that could otherwise send the train off the tracks.

I'm hanging on to almost all and any potentially useful "being a parent" kit I have ever come across and keeping it in my toolbox, just in case one day I need it. I was a perfect middle school child....that turned into the teenager from hell, so just in case nemesis has me in its sights I want a well stuffed bag of tricks by my side.

I think there can be a problem with having overly fixed philosophies when it comes to being a parent. It can leave you up shit creek, looking at your carefully crafted oars, wishing you had held onto the formerly much despised bucket that was jettisoned years before, because you never thought you'd need it.

BackforGood Sun 13-Jan-13 00:01:34

2 excellent posts by Reallytired

musicposy Sat 12-Jan-13 23:58:09

I tend to reward effort and not results. I learnt that the hard way with DD1 in Y10 when she took a couple of GCSEs. She was desperate for a decent phone and I said I would get it if she got certain grades. She completely failed to make any connection between effort put in and results got out and so didn't get the grades, or the phone. In Y11 I said I would reward x amount of effort put in and she did much better.

The achievement of doing well meant nothing to her, tbh. She was 16 and that meant she would always be 16 and therefore never need GCSEs for anything. Faced with a choice of revising for a future that would happen in light years because other people are old, or chatting to friends on facebook now, she needed a bit of a push to choose the revising.

So I think it is useful in some cases.

WilsonFrickett Sat 12-Jan-13 23:45:06

I think it's important to realise what motivates your dc. What works for one won't work for another and as a pp has said, what motivates a child at 5 won't necessarily motivate a child at 15. That said, we reward effort rather than achievement because we want DS to understand its sustained effort that is important, rather than the results.

ReallyTired Sat 12-Jan-13 23:28:41

What has love got to do (got to do) with it ?

Do you think that rewards are a measure of love?"

I think that many children see rewards as sign of parental approval/ love even if the parents do love them unconditionally.

I feel that behaviorism is something used to moviate small children or three year olds or older children with special needs. I believe that rewards can affect instrinctive moviation.

My son at the age of eleven is moviated enough to do best at his school work without having to bribed like one of parlov's dogs. There comes a point moviation has to be instinctive and parents need to back off and offer a different type of support to presents.

CailinDana Sat 12-Jan-13 22:45:09

I also find it a bit odd that people say that doing the work and doing well should be its own reward, when most adults absolutely would not do their jobs for free! When a task is onerous and not particularly exciting (the very definition of schoolwork I would think) then an extrinsic reward isn't necessarily a bad thing.

CailinDana Sat 12-Jan-13 22:40:58

The bribing with cash thing makes sense to a certain extent. Psychologically there is a difference between people who need short term gain in order to be motivated and people who can be motivated by long term gain. With GCSEs/A levels the gain is long term, mostly. You have to study for two/three years to gain a piece of paper which might mean very little in real terms at the time but which in the long run can have a large effect on your future. Unfortunately the majority of teenagers needs short term gain to be motivated, it's just the way their minds work. Due to their age they don't really have the perspective to see that staying in on a Saturday evening when they're 15 might result long term in them being in a better career when they're 30. So motivating them with cash gets around that shortfall in their development. Essentially you are parenting them one last significant time by circumventing their tendency to scupper themselves, the same way you do with a toddler when you remove them from a dangerous situation. It won't change them as people, it'll just prevent them from slacking at a time when slacking could have major consequences. Nothing wrong with that I think. If it works, great. If it doesn't, shame, but at least you tried.

TapirBackRider Sat 12-Jan-13 22:39:56

Totally not being unreasonable, and I agree that for some children the accomplishment is the reward.

My ds on the other hand is not like that. His reward for a good end of year report is £20, which he values highly, and which got him through a couple of very bad years at primary school when he was a victim of bullying. We have offered to alter the 'reward' now he's at high school, but he's told us that he considers it a matter of pride to earn that money!

AlmostAHipster Sat 12-Jan-13 22:39:40

Yes, I was joking MrsJay grin. My kids get lots of praise for trying hard and a fuss made of then when they do well which motivates them. Occasionally, we might go out for a celebration meal (eg A level results) but I don't give money or presents. I want them to enjoy learning (be it academic or extra-curricular) for their own sakes, not because they then get given things.

Loquace Sat 12-Jan-13 22:35:41

I want my children to know they are loved unconditionally. I am pleased for them when they do well, but I love them whatever their SATs results are.

What has love got to do (got to do) with it ?

Do you think that rewards are a measure of love?

I don't feel that way about rewards at all, big, small, abstract or concrete. They are recognition of what it cost your child in terms of effort and BS&Ts to hit to a personal top note. In the same way that the comfort/commiseration offered when things go bent is recognition of your child's pain, struggle or regret.

Budgiegirlbob Sat 12-Jan-13 22:33:06

Theas18 - cross posted with you! I do think though when my kids get to GCSEs we may well get into the 'bribing with cash' stage, even though it goes against my better judgement. My DH seems to think its a good idea, as it his parents rewarded him this way. And I knows that my DCs will think its a great idea!

Corygal Sat 12-Jan-13 22:32:48

I remember with raw joy the day I passed an exam at 11 and got a fiver. Best present ever.

I bought a Complete Shakespeare with it in green leatherette (then went back to reading Jackie).

I would reward now and then - it makes you feel loved. Also, er, it is gratifying to get something nice when other people get the same for not performing.

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