Why shouldn't you reward bad behavior

How can I motivate my child?

Information, tips and ways to increase your child's motivation and willingness to work*

One of the most important systems in learning, whether at school or at home, is the human reward system. It is largely responsible for whether we deal with a topic, a thing, a person or a general action or not.

Unconscious feelings - an example from everyday life

Have you ever not particularly enjoyed a restaurant? Or did you get annoyed about a bad price-performance ratio? Chances are you'd avoid the restaurant in the future, at least until you heard something more positive about it.

Such an aversion also arises from unpleasant smells or an unpleasant appearance. If the interior is not attractive and clean, a negative attitude quickly emerges, which we cannot necessarily name in concrete terms. We just don't go there anymore.

If it is the other way around, we feel comfortable and may become regular guests. Provided that we can afford to eat out regularly and do not get any bad feelings from the costs that would prevent us from visiting again.

Often we are not aware of what causes positive or negative feelings in us. We just experience it!

Feelings in school

Children also experience bad feelings from failure or a lack of understanding. It is not uncommon for them to be defeated by their classmates in competition. Or they are just not as fast as teachers and parents expect them to be.

Failure to meet expectations is extremely frustrating, whether it's your parents, teachers, classmates, or your own. Briefly research your own experiences.

The difference, however, is that our children cannot avoid lessons, as you may have done at the restaurant in our example. As a result, your children are far more likely to experience bad feelings than you might think. This creates strong avoidance strategies or resistance on the part of the children, and these are often persistent.

Perception and Consequences

If you want to change this situation, it is necessary to be aware of previous situations and actions as well as your child's feelings.

We love our children and wish them the best possible life. However, we often make it too easy for them; we give z. B. computers, consoles, cell phones and much more without taking into account how the children behaved towards us or the learning process. Parents are often not even aware that they are showing themselves to be rewarding towards the child, even if they have not behaved appropriately themselves.

Often parents continue to support their children in learning situations, even though they do not make an effort or get involved in the learning. This usually does not lead to sustainable success and is very stressful and nerve-wracking for parents.
If our children are not good or successful, parents take away from them the things that they previously gave without reflection. But through this punishment alone, the children do not find the necessary solution strategies that could make them more successful. And you may admit, in most cases it hasn't had a lasting effect, has it?

First steps to change learning and social behavior

As many of the following points as possible should be considered in every learning situation. The more, the greater the success:

  • The quality of the relationship between you and your child should be as high as possible. Conflicts, stress or threats of punishment reduce the willingness to learn.
  • Don't overwhelm your child with learning content that is too difficult; the learning material should be easy for your child to master. This is not necessarily the workload that is expected of your child at school at all times.
  • Avoid long study units, preferably shorter ones, but more often and more regularly. Your child shouldn't work into fatigue, as this will also trigger bad feelings.
  • Always pay attention to the learning behavior! Only those who learn with the right attitude will learn successfully in the future. Set yourself small milestones and reward them appropriately. If your child is willing to make an effort, this willingness to perform should already be rewarded. In the long run, the content will be successful. Don't take positive behavior for granted; in fact, you end up punishing your child for indifferent to positive behaviors. You thereby reduce the quality of the relationship.
  • Ensure that the child is successful in terms of content by not proceeding too quickly. If your child is given the opportunity to repeat themselves appropriately, they will experience the learning success for themselves and become more involved in learning in the future. The best strategy is to repeat the same content regularly. To ensure this, a weekly work plan is helpful.
  • You can only develop a sustainable change in motivation over a period of 6-12 months. If your child is at risk of being transferred, an improvement in performance can be achieved through tutoring and pressure, but in the long term the child will not try harder on its own.
  • Do not reward the good grades with 5 euros, but rather give 25 cents (in a figurative sense) for each learning unit with a good willingness to make an effort and little resistance.
  • Establish behavioral goals before each learning unit. These should only be changed or expanded when the children have internalized them and you feel a certain ease in dealing with the goals and the child. But never set more than 2-3 goals at once. In the long run, you can have tons of goals.
  • Follow the rules:
    • Learning takes precedence over content
    • Repeat content until it is safe

Educationally Appropriate Rewards

Attachment is the basis of all learning!

First of all, you should be aware that the higher the quality of the relationship, the less material rewards the children will demand.

So if your child is materially very demanding, you should definitely check the attachment first. Bond does not wear outSo you never skimp on praise, you never get tired of looking forward to every little development and improvement of your child. Above all, our children should feel to be loved even without performance. This depends especially on how excited you are about your child and how much respect you give or receive from the child.

Ways of reward

Don't be afraid to use rewards a little more consciously. This does not contradict the above principle as long as the relationship quality is right. You will also quickly find that not every reward or negative consequence is beneficial. If you z. For example, threatening to cancel a planned excursion if siblings do not suffer too often.

  • Time together

    Play more with your child. You will spend more time and improve the quality of the relationship. Be aware, however, that this reward can only be given if the child has achieved your behavioral goal and treated you in a friendly and respectful manner.

  • Pull loose

    Have the child draw a lottery ticket after each positive learning unit. The child's wishes should be written on the tickets. Discuss with your child beforehand to find out his or her interests. Are the wishes too expensive? No problem! Write e.g. B. Cinema voucher on a larger sheet of paper and possibly leave a little more space between the letters. Now cut the voucher into as many parts as you think fit. Your child can glue the voucher together like a puzzle. There are infinite possibilities of reward. You will be surprised, because many children are far less satisfied with than you think.

  • Technology, a common conflict between parents and children

    Technical pleasures, whether computer games, radio plays or TV, are not always bad, our children grow up with them. However, the consumption of technology should not be allowed without limits. Check the games and divide the times. This opens up new reward opportunities for you.

    Increase the playing times on the computer, console, tablet and smartphone depending on the willingness to exert yourself while learning or even make the playing times completely dependent on the learning times. Example: 10 minutes of learning have a value of 5 minutes of play.

It doesn't always matter which rewards we find valuable. It is important that they inspire the children. Find the right amount together with your children.

If your child refuses to learn despite continued efforts, there is probably a learning disorder, perhaps due to too many negative experiences.

The behavioral trainers at the Bonn Learning & Therapy Center are able to use targeted measures to lead students out of this frustrating situation.

Contact us. A learning disorder can usually be remedied well if parents and / or teachers, trainers and children work together in a trusting manner.

We always look forward to your feedback and questions.

Your team from the Bonn Learning & Therapy Center

*Our notes offer general solution strategies. These do not replace professional training or therapy. If you have more complex questions, send us an email. We will be happy to advise you or put you in touch with professional help.