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Are Children Better Motivated Through Reward Or Punishment?


All children no matter what age will misbehave sometimes and each age group can have positive affect with using rewards and punishments.  Both motivations do have positive results but they can vary from child to child.  When you are rewarding a child for something that they did to make you happy, like picking up their toys without being told, then you can give them a reward.  If a child does something that is not favorable then you can punish them, like making them do dishes everyday for a week when they didn’t do them when it was their turn.

When you are going to reward a child the reward needs to be appropriate to the age group that they fall in.  For examples stickers and small toys work with toddlers and preschool aged children but teenagers are different.  If they get a good grade on a test or do their chores without being told then a reward like a later curfew or movies with their friends is a good reward.  It seems that rewards seem to work better in smaller children because can’t process negative feedback AKA punishment as well.

When punishments are going to be given out, they work best according to the age of the child.  Time outs do work well for toddlers and preschools but pre-teens and teenagers won’t respond to this kind of punishment.  Studies have shown that if you match the punishment with the crime, the punishment will work better.  For instances, if a preschool doesn’t put up his or her puzzle pieces then they will lose that puzzle for a few days, if a teenager and they miss curfew then they are not allowed to go anywhere for a few days.  Since these punishments are associated with what they did wrong, then next time they do that activity, they know what will happen if they don’t do what they are told.

For some parents themselves can use in combination or rewards and punishments.  Each child is different in the way they respond to each.  Parents should go over all the rules with their child to ensure that they know what is expected from them and their behavior.  It’s easier for children to do what they are told if they know the rules and what is expected.  Over time you may find one is better than the other.  It’s not a question of which is a better motivator but which one a child responds to better.