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Positive reward scheme is causing DS stress!

(13 Posts)
Coffeeisking Thu 02-Jun-11 22:35:44

DS is 7 and in Y2. Ever since YR he has always put himself under pressure to do well and behave well at school. To the point where he couldnt relax and be himself.

This year it seems to be getting worse. the system is the children get ticks next to their names for good work and behaviour, if they get two ticks a day they go to the head for a sticker. which is a good system for most of the children.

But it seems to not work for my son. The disappointment my son feels when he doesnt get a head sticker is awful. he sees it as a failure.

This system has only been in place this year and i feel that it is putting my son under daily pressure for which he worries about it constantly. compared to last years system they got turtle stamps for exceptional good behavior and when they got 10 stamps they went to the head. most of them only went to her once.

I know ill have to talk to the school again but it feels crap knowing my ds is making himself unhappy about something thats supposed to be positive.

IndigoBell Fri 03-Jun-11 14:34:44

Yes - reward and punishment schemes are in general a bad idea and can backfire like this.

However, schools and teachers tend to love them sad

Your DS is not unusual to react like this though.....

ScrotalPantomime Fri 03-Jun-11 14:39:04

Have a search on Amazon for the author Alfie Kohn. He's written a fair bit on this topic and I've heard it's very good, although I haven't read them myself (yet - they are on my wishlist)

Might be a good way to gather your thoughts on it, and perhaps provide some back up if you want to address this with the school?

Rosebud05 Fri 03-Jun-11 15:50:41

That sounds very stressful. Bit like the scrutiny of working in a call centre. Imagine being under that pressure every day?

I would feedback about it, because your son probably isn't alone, and it sounds a bit extreme to be 'graded' on work and behaviour every day.

efeslight Fri 03-Jun-11 15:52:40

many teachers do not use such systems because of this kind of issue, if its used on a daily basis, do you think the teacher is struggling with discipline?
is it used through the whole school, or just in his class?
if the head has to give out lots of stickers all day, it seems like a waste of their time imo.
certainly speak to the teacher, its probably an issue thats bothering other parents/children too.
i find systems like this hard to manage, its quite difficult to be consistent, and for me was just one more job to do. i think they might be more popular with less experienced teachers, is the teacher new?

wordsmithsforever Fri 03-Jun-11 17:08:33

Yep, Alfie's the man! See www.alfiekohn.org/. I think he's got some great ideas. I try to use his philosophy (in our home ed) though regularly fail miserably and reach for the chocolate jar instead and just bribe!

The question is maybe: if teachers don't use rewards, what can they use instead? Personally if I was a teacher, I'd hate to administer one of these reward systems - they sound really time consuming - but then I don't have to control scores of children!

I seem to remember that what Alfie does say is that there are the three C's that a good school system needs: a caring environment, tasks that are worth doing and have good content and not resorting to pitting children against each in a competitive way.

I can't really comment on the school environment (other than to say my DD didn't respond very well to the reward-punishment system when she was at school way back when). However, I do know that when I fail to address the three C's into our home ed world, things fall apart. If I'm snappy and grumpy (the caring bit), things fall apart. If I ask my children to do crappy tasks that don't mean anything to them (the content thing), they become demotivated. Finally, if I pit them against each other, we can all lose it!

The trouble is, Coffee, I suppose the school won't consider changing the system? Maybe if the teacher could talk to your DS and put the whole system into perspective for him so he understands it's not the be all and the end all and that he is valued unconditionally, whether or not he gets a head's sticker? Maybe if you work on making him aware of the amazing things about himself, so he doesn't feel so emotionally dependent on the system.

I suppose at least it is a reward-based system, the punishment systems are far worse. In my DD's case, she become so anxious about getting x number of bad marks (can't remember what they called them - sort of unhappy faces) because that would lead to a sort of detention thingey which was in a pretty public place in the school. The trouble is these things do work for some children - some of the wild spirited children in the class only behaved because of the threat of detention.

Psychpineapple Fri 03-Jun-11 20:51:03

Our school works the other way -

If you are good/behaving working as you should you stay on the sun, if you misbehave you go on to the sky, if you don't obey the warning or stop the bad behaviour you go on to the black cloud.

If you go on to the black cloud you have to go and see the head.

Every child starts on the sun in the morning i.e. it is a new day, and yesterday's behaviour is not carrying on.

Coffeeisking Sat 04-Jun-11 22:31:06

Sorry for taking so long to come back, havent got a pc at the moment.

DS have two teachers, both very experienced, one is the deputy head, I know the system wont change but hoping that they can try to alleviate his stress. Especially in the run up to the transfer to the juniors which he is also worried about.

Thank you for all your replies, and i will check out Alfie Kohn when i get to a pc. you have all been very helpful. smile

celadon Sat 04-Jun-11 22:36:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ScrotalPantomime Sat 04-Jun-11 22:41:23

I've just downloaded a sample of that book for my shiny new toy kindle - can't wait to read it smile

celadon Sat 04-Jun-11 23:02:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wordsmithsforever Sun 05-Jun-11 07:33:02

That link on motivation was really interesting celadon! It reminds me of Alfie's other big thing - giving children real choice - ie autonomy - so instead of assuming everyone needs direction and management 24/7, you assume people actually want to do useful, interesting things and get out of their way so they can do it!

celadon Sun 05-Jun-11 09:02:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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