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Why we should teach children that rewards for their behavior do not matter, but what they feel when they act responsibly

Fortunately, more and more parents and educators are aware of the importance of educating children with respect, banishing authoritarianism, punishment and yelling, which are so harmful. However, many see no problem in educating using rewards and prizes .

Thus, it is common to reward children for their good behavior, their help at home or their good grades, gradually making them dependent on external judgment and extrinsic motivation (ie “I do this to get my reward” ).

But it is essential to instill in our children from a young age that the true value of our good deeds does not lie in the external reward that we are going to receive, but in why we do it and how we feel afterwards.

There is no better reward for behavior than the inner reward we feel when we act responsibly

Through behavioral rewards, children learn to act out of an external reward or motivation .

Thanks to the prizes, they will most likely do things well (meaning “good” what the adult considers at that moment), they will obey us or study, but they will not be acting of their own free will, nor being aware of their own actions and the impact they have on others.

In addition, and although we may think that prizes make children happy, it really is an illusion that ends up affecting their self-esteem , since the child does not grow up with the security and confidence to act freely and make their own decisions.

We must banish prizes and rewards when it comes to educating our children, fostering their autonomy and teaching them to make responsible, free and respectful decisions for all.

In the same way, we parents have to educate our children so that they understand that every act has consequences on the person itself (” if I don’t study and consolidate content it will be difficult for me to keep up with the class and understand the teacher’s explanations” ) and/ or about others.

These consequences will motivate them to continue doing things like this ( “when I lend my ball I realize that all the children can play and we have a lot of fun together”) or, on the contrary, learn from mistakes and improve.

So, beyond encouraging children with external rewards, let’s instill in them the importance of acting responsibly and respectfully towards themselves and those around them .

Because when things are done with effort, empathy, responsibility and a desire to contribute, the positive consequences of these acts will be the best reward.

“When I act responsibly, I feel good about myself”

When you do the things you should do at all times, acting from responsibility and full attention, and putting all your effort and desire into them, you feel good about yourself.

And it is that beyond the result obtained , it is necessary to learn to value the effort spent , and be aware of the satisfaction, joy and pride that fulfilling our responsibilities produces in us.

“I feel capable, confident and sure of myself”

When we educate the child to do things for himself, without dependence on external judgment or reward, he will grow up feeling valuable and capable. And there is no more pleasant, powerful and positive feeling for a human being than knowing that they are capable of acting independently, of persevering, overcoming themselves, learning and not being afraid to face new challenges.

“I feel valuable when I verify that my contribution is important for my community”

When a child is aware that his responsible actions have a positive impact on others , his self-esteem will be reinforced because he will feel that his help or contribution is important to others.

Photos | iStock

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