Rewards / punishments as tools to manage children

I am not a parent myself but have managed a residential school for 4 years that had 100 children. I now run learning centers and have daily routine to manage groups of 10-15 children at one time.

And I accept it, Managing children is not a walk in the park. It is a difficult job. And even though i am not a biological parent myself, i do have ample experience to speak on this topic and at least be heard.

The problem is not the children, But how we have set up our lives and what we aim for!

The Basics – We have made parenting a difficult job

In yesteryears, managing children was not a difficult job at all. Because children were not controlled or micro managed.

Tribals had (and even today have) the best parenting models ever.

This was because they had simpler life. They had less needed to be done, more free time, less competition, less crisis. Less of preparing for the “future”. Less of stakes for survival.

Today we live in a world where we are working like machines. And always worried about the future and survival.

We want to do best, achieve more. The media is always telling us that we are missing something. Social media is now making us compare ourselves with others even more. . We want to make more money, achieve more success and we extend the same ideology on our children.

Today, children are not cherished as happy blessings souls but as trophies to showcase to others . We want to make them BEST like we want to posess the BEST iphone, updated like iphone. And competitive mindset.

But , the problem is children are not machines or products.And most adults forget that!

Like Machines and animals and want them to be best at everything. And that’s the root of the problem. And in the process we make life hell for them and ourselves.

If we look at the bigger picture. If you really want to address the problem of how to manage children, you must really start with the very basic question of WHAT you expect from your children in first place. And really that will settle everything else in place automatically.

Anyways, lets get back to the main topic of this article.

Straight forward Rewards and Consequences

In the quest of managing children, to get them do things, there is either reward or punishment as a tool to get things done.

Rewards and gratification is oxygen of the brain. We crave both like fish without water.

The whole phenomenon of getting something done using punishment OR reward is usually a tool used by adults to make their job easier getting things done. And both of them look perfect in first glance. And these models are harmful in longer run and have negative consequences.

Now there are two categories of outcomes

FIRST is Straight forward OUTCOMES

  • What it is
    For example money, toys and gifts. These work magically with most children but i think it can be a little messy later on. This kind of reward looks very effective on surface, just like physical punishment to enable action and compliance.

    Complete your homework and you will get 1 hour of video game.
    Clean the patio and i will give you a chocolate! “

    Punishment examples
    “You wil stand 1 hour in the closed door room for not doing your homework”
    “Physical corporal punishment”


Innate Outcomes- where the joy is nt materialistic
  • What it is:
    Innate outcomes are rewards that are everlasting, food for the soul, These are not visible and not quick. The difference is kind of like joy and pleasure. The process is slow , calming and relaxing. There’s a sense of abundance asociated with it.

    When a child sits with his parent to help him in construction work, without being asked for it. That is INNATE reward for the child.

The Pleasure that is driven from addiction, toys, gifts, money is shortlived. Joy that comes from innate “invisible” benefits are long term and healthy for brain.

So what is the problem with STRAIGHT FORWARD rewards/punishment

  • This makes a business relationship with the parent.
    This model of does nt allow to build a friendship. And this leads to a mental distance between the parent and child.
  • Addicted to instant gratification
    A child may also get addicted to instant gratification. Wants money
  • An action that is driven by extrensic factor is not sustainable
    A child who does homework so that he can go out and play will never be as interested in that topic as someone who is studying out of interest.
  • Compliance out of fear or reward has shorter shelf life
    the moment you take away the fear or reward, the child will not continue the action because he lacks the interest. He is trained to act like a machine which needs fuel to act on.
  • This instills fear and scarcity mindset
    The whole process of fear and business reward model leads to fear and scarcity. A child separates hiimself from his parents and the sense of belongingness and togetherness is eroded.
  • The child revolts
    Just like most employees, a child is also is usually unhappy in such relationship.

Why you should consider INNATE rewards

  • Relationship and togetherness
  • Innate joy is sustainable, irrespective of the outcome. Now, the journey itself becomes the source of joy.
  • It brings a positive abundance mindset.
  • It is devoid of toxicity and calculations.
  • It increases sense of belongingness and togetherness between the adult and the child.
  • It does nt need any punishments, as now the child values you as a companion and not as en employer. And will not want to intentionally do anything to make your life difficult.

So really, if you use reward or punishment as tool to control your child. Please question your approach and consider re-thinking and analyzing where this is taking you .

A change in mindset about life is key to fix this problem. And this will require you to think and question what you are aiming for.

Also Read:

Leave a Comment