How do we move beyond a parenting system of reward and punishment to strategies that help our kids develop internal motivation, good decision making skills and competence to manage their lives? Author, Alfie Kohn suggests that punishments and rewards lead kids to be less connected to others and less aware of the impact of their actions, both positive and negative. Kids begin to think more along the lines of "what is going to happen to me if I do or don't do something?" A stronger approach is to give our kids some choice and control over their own lives whenever we can. When we must take control and we are clear that the reason behind our request serves a higher purpose, we need to help our kids understand our "why" and that our desire isn't to control them. This is how they will learn to self-manage.
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Vashti Summervill is a PCI Certified Parent Coach and a certified teacher in the state of Idaho. She is the secretary of the Idaho Suicide Prevention Coalition and the co-chair of the St. Luke’s Pediatric Family Advisory Council.