Most parents I know are seeking help with stress management. Between work and family, there is always so much to do. No wonder so many parents turn to rewards and punishments in order to get their children to comply. Unfortunately, using such techniques actually makes the parent’s stress level rise. If you want true parental stress management, you need to focus on responsibility, not outdated parenting models.
Social scientists have determined that we accept inner responsibility for a behavior when we think we have CHOSEN to perform it in the absence of outside pressure, such as a large reward.
While an incentive may get us to perform a certain action, it won’t get us to accept inner responsibility for the act. Consequently, we won’t feel COMMITTED to it. The same is true of a strong threat; it may motivate immediate compliance, but it is unlikely to produce long-term commitment.
These conclusions have important implications for parents and stress management.
It suggests that we should NOT BRIBE or THREATEN our children to do the things we want them truly to believe in.
Such pressures may produce temporary compliance with our wishes. However, if we want more than just that—if we want the children to believe in the correctness of what they have done, if we want them to continue to perform the desired behavior when we are not present to apply those outside pressures—then we must somehow arrange for them to accept inner responsibility for the actions we want them to take.
Having young people exposed to the difference between Level C (external motivation) and Level D (internal motivation) in the Levels of Development is a simple and easy way to accomplish this.