Stop Rewarding Your Child for Good Behaviour

rewarding-childrens-behaviour-needs-to-stop-headerMy son (3) came to me this morning and held out his hand with a few candies in it and a smile on his face from ear to ear. He exclaimed “Daddy, I got candy cause I was good.”
Before I gave much thought to it, I immediately returned “You got candy because mom is good, not you.”

Is rewarding for good behaviour a bad thing? We have all done it, myself included. But I believe there’s a better way.

A reward is given when proper action is taken, but not necessarily expected. More importantly, a reward is dependant on the giver, not the receiver. If you receive a benefit for something good you have done, it is dependent on your efforts and therefore it is considered a wage earned, not a reward. When a reward is given, it is solely dependent on the goodness of the giver not the goodness of the receiver.

If a puppy were to go missing, the owner may offer a reward conditional on the safe return of the puppy. The value of the reward is based on the value of the puppy to the owner, not the effort put forth by the finder.

Religion often seeks a reward, not remembering that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give His children every good and perfect gift. If His giving was dependent on our goodness and obedience, or it would be considered “wages earned” for our efforts. Because He put such a high value on you and me (as proven by the blood), the reward is great; EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT THING. He withholds nothing! 🙂

My son received candy because his mother’s value of him, rather than his efforts. She wants to give him every good and perfect gift. We use rewards as a way to train our child to do the right thing by rewarding their efforts. This is a religious mindset that teaches children to earn the blessings of God through good behaviour. The Gospel is not dependent on us, but His love and goodness that we get to partake in!

When a reward is given, it is solely dependent on the goodness of the giver not the goodness of the receiver.

Working for money is also a wrong motivation. Money is always a blessing when you do what you love. It is better to teach them to find what they are good at and love doing and then train them to go for it, rather than work for money, but that is a blog post for another day.

We must understand that His goodness is not tied to our efforts. HE IS GOOD. He withholds nothing. Every promise is yes and amen.

“Why am I not seeing all of the goodness of God then?” you may say.

We don’t walk in fullness, because we don’t believe He is that good!

When my children ask me for a treat, I often ask them “Give me one good reason why I should give you a treat.” It’s fun to watch them come up with various responses…

“Because I cleaned my room?”
“Because I shared my toys?”
“Because I am being good?”
“Because I am hungry?”
“Because I like treats?”

And so on, the responses fly. After a while of hearing numerous self-centred responses, I tell them “The reason I will give you a treat is because I LOVE YOU!” I want them to understand that the blessings they receive in my home are not a result of their goodness, but mine (and my wife’s). I don’t want them thinking they have to earn anything from me. Mi casa es su casa, My home is your home. What I have is yours. I hope that in the same way they can learn that the goodness of the Father has nothing to do with them and EVERYTHING to do with Him. The blessings of God are not something earned, but something given. Believe. Receive.