Have you ever noticed that the more behavior problems a child has, the more “rewards” they ultimately end up with? This may sound odd, because they certainly end up with a larger share of negative consequences too, but in reality, they get more rewards.
A child who always does the right thing does not need a reward to coerce them to be cooperative, but the kids who don’t behave get one. In fact, in some classrooms misbehaving children get stickers (or some other tangible item) every 15 minutes or so. What must the behaving kids think?
And while it’s nice to think that the children who have developed self-discipline understand that others sometimes need rewards, that is simply not true. I have talked to too many adults who still resent the fact that the kids in school who bothered them, bullied them, disrupted the class, etc., were somehow rewarded, while the “good kids” were just told, “Keep it up. Nice job.”
Under the Discipline without Stress system, rewards are not utilized. If a teacher wants to give a special treat, then ALL the kids get it—not because someone stayed on task without hurting his or her neighbors for 30 minutes or because all the kids “behaved themselves all day,” but rather just because the teacher wants to treat all the students to something special or fun.
Of course, this does not mean that all the children in the class get equal attention from the teacher. Students DO understand that some of their classmates will need more help from the teacher than others. A high achieving child takes pride and pleasure in working independently with opportunities to share his or her work; such a student does not need or want the teacher standing at their elbow, always helping or monitoring.
When it comes to reward plans, they are damaging for ALL the kids:
• For those who receive them for doing what comes naturally to them.
• For those who willingly behave themselves, but aren’t recognized with a reward because “they don’t need one.”
• For those who misbehave but end up with rewards anyway.
There are no winners in such a situation.