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Monetary Reward System: Yay or Nay?

Are you having trouble getting your children to help out with house chores? Getting children to do chores can be one of the most challenging part of parenting. You have tried talking, persuading, and yelling, still none of them works. Many parents may resolve this by adopting an external reward system in exchange for chores time with their children. But does it really work? Yes for a short period of time. But I can tell you that this system isn't going to work. Let me tell you why.

External reward system involves rewarding tangible items (food, money, toys, screen time, reward chart) whenever a child does something he/she is requested or expected to do. The child is extrinsically motivated by the reward to complete the task, instead of being motivated by his/her own intrinsic values. So when there is no reward involved, the child no longer feel the need to complete the activity as it is no longer rewarding. A few examples below:

"Haley, mummy's going to give you a sweet if you help mummy with the dishes"

In this scene, the focus is the sweet. Haley is washing the dishes because she is motivated by the sweet. But in reality the real focus should be the mom. Mom is tired, that is why mom needs help with the dishes. Haley was not motivated by her own intrinsic values (empathy, considerate), instead she was motivated by the external reward - sweet. So next time when mom asked Haley to do the dishes again, guess what she'll respond?

"Ben, can you please clean up your toys? I'll let you watch iPad for 10 minutes after you're done cleaning"

Is Ben cleaning up because the room is too messy (intrinsic understanding) or is he doing it for the iPad (external motivation)?

Notice how intrinsic and extrinsic motivation plays an important role in how we communicate to our child? External reward system is a temporary motivation. It only serves through that particular activity. You'll end up putting yourself in a position where you have to negotiate and bargain with your child each time you want them to do something. It is tiring and ineffective in the long run.

Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, goes a long way as it is instilled in your child. As parents, guide and show them the root for motivation comes from within, not external. Explain it to them, reason it with them and help them flourished their values. Don't forget to praise them and appreciate their effort for helping. You got this parents! I have faith in you :)

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