Are praise and reward only creating recognition seekers?

I came across this article a few days ago and thought I’d share to see what you guys thought. The main gist of it are the negative effects praise can have on our children. According to the author, the praise and reward system comes down to wanting control over our children. By rewarding, we get them to do what we want. But very often although this may have short term benefits, in the long run it does the child no good as it takes the real reason for doing what they’re doing away. They then do it for the reward, not because they want to.


Here are some quotes from the article:

“Praise cannot create a personal commitment to “good” behavior or performance. It only creates a commitment to seeking praise.”

“Praise is a reminder that the praiser has power over them. It diminishes the child’s sense of autonomy, and, like a little pat on the head, it keeps them small.”

“Children, just like adults, naturally recoil from being controlled. We all want to grow toward self-determination. Praise can therefore create resistance, since it impinges on a child’s developing sense of autonomy.”

“When children are bribed with rewards for “good” behaviour, they soon learn how to manipulate us by acting the part that is expected of them.”

“Instead of lavishing children with congratulations, it’s better if they focus internally on the pleasure they derive from accomplishment. Children are naturally thirsty to achieve, learn and conquer.”

And the line that really did it for me:

“Children can certainly be made to do what they don’t want or love, by offering them approval, praise or other rewards. But this does not make them happy. Happiness can only be derived from doing what is intrinsically rewarding to us, and this does not require others’ applause. Do we want kids to become reward-addicts, crowd-pleasers, and recognition-seekers, or do we want them to be self-motivated, faithful to themselves, following their own interests? If the latter is true, then the way is not to praise them but to appreciate them.”

You can read the entire article here.

As a mother, I very instinctively find myself praising S. “Good boy” when he does something new or something I’ve asked him to do comes very naturally. But this article was a real eye opener. I’ll still be praising him but I’ll be watching my motives and trying to appreciate his own natural curiosity more.


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