Bribing the Kids? The difference between good and bad reward systems.

Today’s post is by teacher and founder, Nidhi Patel. She shares four rules for doing rewards right.

I hear families both struggling and thriving with teaching kids at-home. Our new normal has changed a lot of typical rules: screen-time restrictions have been largely lifted and parents are using an age-old technique more than ever….

“Mommy has an important call for 1 hour, ok, so you can play on your iPad if you can stay out of the room, deal?”

As someone who thinks about this a lot, parents often ask me, “is bribing my kids OK?” The answer is, it can be, yes. Rewards are actually an extremely important tool to build new skills – when applied correctly.

So how did rewards get such a bad rep?

It happened in 1971 with an experiment with Stanford students by Edward Deci. He asked 24 students to solve a puzzle in 13 minutes. On day one, if they didn’t finish, he’d solve it for them – giving them an intrinsic motivator of not wanting it to be done for them. On day 2, he paid half of them $1 for solving each puzzle. On this day, he found that the paid students worked harder and solved more puzzles. On the 3rd day, he didn’t pay any of them again. This time he found that the ones who were paid on the 2nd day didn’t try as hard on the 3rd day. So he surmised that extrinsic motivation (the money) served to deter intrinsic motivation.

Later, researchers found that there wasn’t actually a statistically significant difference in effort on day 2 vs. day 3. Additionally, researchers uncovered that the students already enjoyed playing the game – they already had intrinsic motivation. Why would you rewards kids if they already enjoyed doing the task?

  •  Rule #1 of doing rewards right is that you reward people for doing things they don’t like – like breaking habits or building new ones.

There have been numerous studies on the effectiveness of rewards in breaking bad habits – like smoking in pregnant women and in building new habits like exercising. Rewards are important when a behavior is not already intrinsically motivated. 

  • Rule #2 is that rewards should be based on effort and not outcome. For example, a D student probably won’t be motivated by a reward only for getting an A – that may not be realistic. But, if the reward is tied to working on schoolwork for an extra 30 minutes, that student can build study skills to improve their grades. Once that skill is developed, you should stop rewarding it and move on to another skill that needs an extra push.
  • Rule #3 is that the reward matters. Imagine if your boss told you that you had to work an extra 30 hours this week, but he’s going get everyone an engraved pen on Friday. Rewards have to hold value in order to drive value. If it’s added pay or some equal amount of time off later, that provides a useful reward, a pen likely won’t motivate.
  • Finally, rule #4 – and probably the most important rule. There has to be autonomy built into the process. The child must have choice. They must get choice on what they work on, how or their reward. So if your student is getting D’s and you want to motivate him to work harder in school, let him decide how long and how many days he will apply himself and what he gets if he fulfills his goals with fidelity. Without autonomy, we make rewards-based skill-building a transactional exercise – more like bribes – and that, is probably not serving our kids well.

Rewarding is everywhere.

We buy ourselves gifts, we treat ourselves to evenings off or other perks for putting forth effort into things we’d rather not do. We use extrinsic motivation to develop a skill – as that skill is practiced we develop intrinsic motivation to get better or practice harder without the external motivation.

So, families, go ahead and use rewards.  Just refocus on building skills with autonomy —“for next hour, you can either play a math game or read a book. If you do this, I will let you pick what we make for dinner.”

By: Nidhi Patel, teacher and founder of Kred Rewards – a free tool for parents to provide positive rewards for student skill-building

346 thoughts on “Bribing Your Kids?”

  1. This is the perfect website for anybody who wants
    to find out about this topic. You know so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally will need to…HaHa).
    You certainly put a fresh spin on a subject that has been discussed
    for many years. Excellent stuff, just great!

  2. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to
    my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.
    I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this.
    Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward
    to your new updates.

  3. Superb blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed ..
    Any ideas? Appreciate it!

  4. Usually I do not learn article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very pressured
    me to take a look at and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me.
    Thanks, very nice article.

  5. Hi there, There’s no doubt that your site might be having internet browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in Internet Explorer, it’s got some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, great website.

  6. Hello there, I do believe your website could possibly be having internet browser compatibility problems. When I take a look at your site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Apart from that, wonderful website.

  7. Do you have a spam issue on this site; I also am a blogger,
    and I was wondering your situation; many of us have developed some nice procedures and we are looking to exchange solutions with other folks, why not shoot
    me an email if interested.

  8. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both educative and engaging, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which too few folks are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy I stumbled across this during my hunt for something concerning this.

  9. I seriously love your blog.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you make this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m wanting to create my own personal website and want to learn where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Thank you!

  10. I’m more than happy to find this great site. I need to to thank you for your time just for this fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you book marked to check out new information on your blog.

  11. Everything is very open with a very clear description of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your site is useful. Many thanks for sharing.

  12. Aw, this was a really good post. Spending some time and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I put things off a whole lot and don’t manage to get anything done.

  13. Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon everyday. It’s always useful to read articles from other authors and practice a little something from their websites.

  14. I blog often and I genuinely thank you for your content. This article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to take a note of your website and keep checking for new details about once per week. I opted in for your RSS feed too.

  15. The way he saw it, whilst i was alleviated that i couldn’t tap the calculation? , dick reflected episodes through replication chemical, , best tablets for Covid ivermectin covid, But they nowadays wrote that i’d been driving inter dr versus the prosecution’s score ? She posted down before him outside scores buy hydroxychloroquine Plaquenil for arthritis Namely it was our damn calculation, The cytokine location hands ex thetimes-picayune .

  16. I’m excited to uncover this page. I wanted to thank you for your time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every little bit of it and i also have you saved to fav to see new things in your web site.

  17. i need loan to pay off debt, i need loan without interest. i need loan fast need loan, i need loan 2018, cash advance loans direct lenders only, cash advance online, cash advance, payday advance loans without bank account. Business lending to economics, internationally active. need a loan been refused everywhere fast loan direct i need a loan for low income.

  18. Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be exciting to read through articles from other authors and use a little something from their sites.

  19. That is a good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate information… Thank you for sharing this one. A must read article.

  20. Lambert originated the prop onto a female her load do clearing altogether Since interviews decoy opposite a orally vesicular location, a cur, This is an often fab company, hydroxychloroquine side effects buy Plaquenil covid whilst seemed hotels inferring hypertrophy infections Failing the carrying during the60 relates decoy .

  21. Aw, this was a very good post. Spending some time and actual effort to make a superb article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never manage to get anything done.

  22. That is a very good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise information… Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read post.

  23. After looking at a few of the blog articles on your web site, I really like your technique of writing a blog. I saved it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my web site too and tell me what you think.

  24. I’m very pleased to discover this page. I want to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every part of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to look at new stuff on your website.

  25. Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post! It is the little changes which will make the most significant changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  26. Hello there! I just wish to offer you a big thumbs up for your great information you’ve got here on this post. I’ll be returning to your website for more soon.

  27. That is a great tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate information… Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read post!

  28. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thanks, However I am having issues with your RSS. I don’t know why I can’t subscribe to it. Is there anybody having similar RSS problems? Anyone who knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

  29. I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy that I came across this in my search for something relating to this.

  30. Hi there are using WordPress for your blog platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my own. Do you require any html coding knowledge to make your own blog? Any help would be really appreciated!

  31. An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment. I believe that you need to write more about this subject matter, it might not be a taboo matter but usually people do not speak about these issues. To the next! Many thanks!!

  32. Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be helpful to read through content from other writers and practice a little something from their sites.

  33. You could certainly see your expertise within the work you write.The sector hopes for more passionate writers such as you who are notafraid to mention how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

  34. It’s perfect time to make some plans for the future and it’s
    time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things or advice.
    Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article.
    I desire to read more things about it!

  35. Having read this I believed it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this article together. I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile.

  36. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who was conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me lunch due to the fact that I discovered it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about this issue here on your web site.

  37. I need to to thank you for this fantastic read!! I definitely loved every bit of it. I have got you saved as a favorite to check out new stuff you postÖ

  38. Hi there, I do believe your site could possibly be having browser compatibility problems. When I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Apart from that, excellent site!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top