Show 16 – Growing kids into their potential

Let’s assume we are naturally motivated to learn and grow. We are born to interact with the world and grow into our next best challenge. Tears and frustration are necessary for learning. As parents, how do we support our child’s own guidance system and intrinsic motivation? How do we support them and manage our own fears when our children are on a learning edge?

Co-Hosts: Wendy McDonnell and Sharon Lewis


Aired February 7, 2010 || 8 to 9 AM Eastern, 93.3 FM in Guelph

Drawing from hundreds of studies, Kohn demonstrates that people actually do inferior work when they are enticed with money, grades, or other incentives. Programs that use rewards to change people’s behaviour are similarly ineffective over the long run. Promising goodies to children for good behaviour can never produce anything more than temporary obedience. In fact, the more we use artificial inducements to motivate people, the more they lose interest in what we’re bribing them to do. Rewards turn play into work, and work into drudgery.” from Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn

What are some of the alternatives to punishments and rewards?

1) Work with the relationship: we follow people with whom we are connected. Direct only when our child is ready to follow.

2) Appreciation: Specifically what did our child do or say, how do we feel, and what needs were met for mutual celebration.

3) Acknowledge and share what we observe: Notice something worked out well for your child. (Example: “When you practiced each night for two weeks, you figured out that new piece and played it confidently at the recital. That’s what I call determination.”)

4) Ask lots of questions: Any thoughts on how you’d like to handle that? What do you need to figure that out?

5) Natural consequences: (a) consequences not controlled by anyone (Example: stay up past midnight and feel sleepy for the next day=do less than expected on the test) or (b) living with the consequences of our behaviour (decide not to do homework=D on test or detention)

6) Focus on what we want, not what we don’t want: (Example: “What do I need to do to get that mark or participate in that program?” rather than “You better not skip school.”). Find out why doing something is intrinsically meaningful and important for your child?

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