An Example of Why Rewards Don’t Work

When it comes to discipline, many people think rewards are effective for changing behavior. Although the intentions are admirable, giving rewards for expected appropriate behavior does as much harm as good. Rewards are simply not an effective discipline approach.

The following example of why rewards don’t work was sent to me from a reader:

“I just wanted to quickly relay a rewards-based disaster. One of our seventh graders, in fact, the daughter of a teacher, recently wanted to go to the Positive Behavior Support (PBS) reward dance. She is an A honor roll student, never a discipline problem, and a wonderful kid. In the haste of ‘bribing’ misbehaving students to be good, we neglected to ‘reward’ her for doing what she had motivated herself to do. Long story short, she did not have enough PBS tickets to go to the dance. How horrible!

“Looks like rewards systems don’t quite cover the good kids as well as they should. Good thing they are intrinsically motivated and feel good about the fact that they are great kids and their teachers love them!”

This teacher’s experience points out the big problem with any reward based behavior program—the fact that the goal of the program (often not clearly stated) is simply to get youth to behave. When the goal is obedience, then the program isn’t truly too worried about the children who are already obedient. Then things happen—just as they did in this example where a wonderful child is left feeling terrible. Of course, no one intended for that to happen, but still that’s often the result.

This is why the Discipline Without Stress methodology is so empowering and unique. The program’s goal is to raise everyone, not just those who are a discipline problem, so the program can focus on all youth. That way, EVERY child wins. Some win by bringing themselves up to Level C, while those who are already there win too. They learn about Level D, which is such a valuable understanding for living the rest of their lives. No other program I’m aware of provides this understanding or this level of discipline help.