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Punishment and Reward

punishment and rewardRecently I have been getting Behaviour Recommendation reports for my daughter from school into my inbox at an alarming rate and it’s making me nervous.

It’s not that I’ve never had these before for my sons, just that there’s been a healthy balance between these and the ones that say things like ‘failed to complete coursework’ and ‘was a bit too high-spirited in class today’.

They all have collections of Congratulations postcards sent home when they’ve done something Really Good (‘Keep them!’ I’ve said ‘They may be good for job interviews!’) but they’ve tended to fall away after Year 7 when the novelty’s worn off.

They’ve also all at some point or other on their school journeys been rewarded with sweets. (SWEETS!!)

As a family that has never instilled a punishment and reward regime at home, I’ve been interested to see how it works at school, and have felt it my duty as a parent to point out to them that what happens at school is their responsibility, not mine. It is my kids who have to learn to negotiate The Rules and deal with the school punishment and reward system, so I don’t think it’s my business to get involved. Except for that time I felt the need to point out that removing clocks from classrooms could technically be described as ‘stealing’ and there’s a law against that.

What is interesting is that all my children see through the way that the punishment and reward system is used at school to manipulate behaviour. They shrug that it’s the kids who aren’t doing very well who get the rewards, to encourage them. You won’t get a reward if you generally work well, but you will get a detention if you slip. My children don’t seem that bothered by any of this but it’s clear that the punishment and reward system is not a great influence on their actual behaviour.

All those Good Behaviour reports worry me sometimes though. Is my daughter being Too Good?? Is she starting to be hooked on extrinsic rewards? Has this system made her Want to Please too much..?

Don’t think so. Her reaction is exactly the same as the reaction of all my kids to the negative reports. A shrug of the shoulders and ‘Oh mum you don’t want to take any notice of that. Everyone got one.’


  1. ddJJCharlejyJJj
    | Reply

    Ha ha! My boys are equally dismissive of these cards and/or any certificates they get. I was a bit disappointed at first that they seemed to care so little, but their comment (like your daughter’s) was “Well, everyone got one”. Sigh!

    Re. the extrinsic reward behaviour, the good thing is, as you say, we’re the experts on our kids, not the teachers, and we’re the ones that influence them most. Likelihood is, your daughter’s doing just fine! 🙂 Hope my boys are too … Trouble with parenting is, you never know how you’ve done till it’s too late!

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