Preparing for the world

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Allan-Matlem, Apr 25, 2008.

  1. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    One of the problems with ' reward and punishment is the focus is what happens to me , what's in it for me , what will I get or what will be done to me , rather than reflecting on the type of person you are trying to be , the values you are trying to express. Preparing a kid for the world in my humble opinion requires enabling him to aquire values that will help him become caring , competent and responsible and the life skills that will enable him to work and collaborate with others.

    Here is a quote from Immanuel Kant, Education

    If you punish a child for being naughty, and reward him for being good, he will do right merely for the sake of the reward ; and when he goes out into the world and he finds out that goodness is not always rewarded , nor wickedness always punished , he will grow into a man who only thinks about how will get on in the world and does right and wrong according as he finds either of advantage to himself.
  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    hi, we haven't heard from you in a while. I do agree, to a point.

    I believe that if you are trying to teach a child to take personal resonsibility for something they have done wrong, you must use punishment and consequences. However, if you are teaching a child empathy for others, you take out the "me" factor so they are focussed or wittness to the happiness or suffering of others.

  3. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I believe Allan is correct when every action of the child is either rewarded or punished. Then, the child will start looking for a reaction that revolves around them. So, rewards and punishments are not doled out so readily.

    That said, it is important to recognize special behaviors and accomplishments and discipline (not punish) out of line behaviors.

    The reward and discipline should fit the action as close as possible. The reward does not need to be a material item - it can be a simple as a "I am so proud of you." "That feels great doesn't it?" Keep the reward focused on the deed, not an item.

    The word punishment brings in mind horror images of pain and torture. Let's throw that word out and work on "discipline" which includes natural consequences (you left your homework at home? You get a late grade.) and teaching opportunity (what can we do to prevent that? Maybe put homework in the backpack as soon as it is done?)

    The hard part is finding a consequence that fits the action.
  4. Christy

    Christy New Member

    I agree that this is certainly the ideal situation but the big question is how do we get to that point with a difficult child? One assumes that there is an inner motivation to do the right thing and to please others, or that we gain personal satisfaction and fulfillment when we help someone in need. For all personality types, this is not always the case.

    Yes, I do believe that my difficult child has a good heart and wants to please, but he is too driven by egocentricity and and overwhelming need for personal gain. He has poor impulse control and an inability to delay gratification. He does not do things just because they are right or forgo other things because he knows they are wrong. His decisions are driven by how the choice affects him at that vey moment.

    For example, if I am in the room, he will ask for a doughnut and take one. If he is in the kitchen and I am upstairs, he will eat 5 doughnuts even though he is aware that we would disapprove. Worse yet -lol-is that he will take great pride in informing me that he ate 5 doughnuts while I was in the shower. At least he is honest, I suppose. While he will be disappointed in the following days because he will not have any doughnuts (having eaten them all), he does not think ahead.

    Another issue we have is with the pets. He does not purposefully hurt them but may do so in an effort to control them. Petting the cat is not enough, he needs to lay on the cat keepig him in place and refusing to let him go. He says he is "hugging" the cat. He has been told point blank on many occasions that it is not acceptable to hold the cat against its will. At night, when he is in bed and we are downstairs we will hear thet cat wailing and discover that difficult child is holding the cat down in his bed. The only way we can avoid this situation is by keeping the cats locked in our bedroom until he falls asleep.

    I guess the point I am trying to make is although my husband and I try to lead by example and often do caring things for others and model appropriate behavior. My son seems to have no internal control. No little voice that says, "Hey, should you be doing that?" He is not personally motivated to do the right thing and has no concern about the need for cooperation to be productive in society.

    If there is a way to change this, I would love to know how. I think I was looking at the summary of that very book yesterday on amazon and if anyone has read it, I'd love to know you thoughts.
  5. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member


    Oh how I agree with you...that is my difficult child to a T..LOL
  6. BestICan

    BestICan This community rocks.

    I agree with Christy. Internal motivation only works for a child who is wired for that kind of reward. For the rest of us, we're busy trying to teach our children about the concept of internal motivation before it can be put to use!

    If most parents are like me, we start using rewards/punishments when our kids are very young, well before we know of their diagnoses, because nothing else has worked and we're desperate. I use the "quarter jar" (oh how I wish I knew about a "marble jar" back when we started this; I'd be much richer) for difficult child.

    Believe me, from the first punishment and reward, back when difficult child was probably 3, I knew at the time that this was not the greatest path to take. But it's a tool, and a useful one at times. It's one thing to add to the toolbox - along with SO many other techniques - to help a difficult child live together with family and get along in the school setting.
  7. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I need to apologize. This morning while I was getting toward the end of my post, my family kept me so distracted that I was trying to wrap it up and get out the door too quickly. I said something in the post that has bothered me all day and I hope I did not offend anyone.

    "Let's throw that word out ....." I had no right to make that statement. I do not want anyone to think that I am being judgemental - I am not. Punishment has several levels to it and I know that the word doesn't always mean inappropriate action.

    Please accept my apology and know that I would never outright tell anyone what to do.

    Each child is different. I recently jokingly told a friend of mine that I am a PP, I have done everything right so why are my kids the way they are? I just didn't get the kids who needed my parenting style :) I am sure if I had different kids, they would have been beyond perfect with my parenting skills (or lack of) - Yeah right! So, I have to find the right parenting skills for the kids I have. We all know our own child best and what works for one doesn't work for another. We need to keep our creativity hat on to find those answers that work for our child.
  8. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I agree that logical consequences are the best learning opportunities for our children. Unfortunately, at least in Miss KT's case, the same consequence must occur several times before she "gets it", unless that consequence is exceptionally painful to her, like the low grades/no driving corollary. When she was younger, there was no reward great enough and no punishment great enough to control her behaviors. Now she has that blue carrot in the form of a Chevy truck...but she's still horribly rude, mean, oblivious to the pain she causes, and unable to keep friends unless they're just as anti-social as she is. I don't believe compassion for others can be either have it or you don't.
  9. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    I agree, Allan. This is the aim.
    But after many many years of trying to unlock the key to this in my difficult child, I have realized that he is simply not motivated to be a good person. It just doesn't matter to him. It's not important, it's not in his frame of reference.

    I can talk with him forever about what it means to be a good person, to care about others and about the world, but the defiance and self-centredness continue unabated.

    I have realized that the only thing that motivates my difficult child is seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. The thing he must do must be sufficiently pleasurable, or the consequence for it must be sufficiently grief-filled for him to behave appropriately.

    Rewards and punishments have no effect, teaching him about being kind and empathetic toward others, has not made even the slightest dent. Modelling goodness and kindness, no effect either.

    So...difficult child remains in Residential Treatment Center (RTC)/Assisted Living under 24/7-365 supervision. And still, with therapy and medications adjustments and interventions every day by a team of round-the-clock staff, on top of all the interventions husband and I have tried over the years before coming to this point, none of it has made the slightest impact on difficult child.

    At this point, I honestly don't believe that difficult child will ever be prepared for the world, nor the world for him. So...until he shows himself to be otherwise, we protect them (difficult child and the world) from each other.

  10. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    As our experience today emphasized, with my difficult child, rewards and consequences are good "maintenance" and secondary enforcements, but they don't get the point across to him. The strategy of working through issues step-by-step, in a calm way without discussion of rewards, consequences or punishments, is very effective with difficult child most of the time- at least right now. When he is raging, though, nothing works until he calms down.
  11. lambsear2

    lambsear2 New Member

    My son has been participating in behavior modification programs since he was 6yo. As he approached 12 yo and he was quickly going down hill. I had asked a child psychiatric what do we do after rewards charts? His answer was to work with consequences. I agree with Christy that reward/consequences will only be successful with a child that has a moral compass, empathy and desire to please ones parents (ie which can be translated into a form of motivation). The additional influences of impulsiveness and self-serving nature will further exacerbate the situation. If your child is ODD you can add the defiant, angry and coniving nature in.

    Like Trinity- my child spent 18 months at Residential Treatment Center (RTC) (from age 14-16). It was the best option that we could use to help difficult child. We could not reach him and we could not control him. The program was intensive 24/7 and was a full lock down facility. I asked the team resident how do you reach these kids. His answer was that it was thru constant (daily) repetition, quick and swift consequences & clear and concise rules of conduct/responsibilities and dont forget 24/7 supervision. Additionally programs were provided for group/indidual couneling, victim awareness, drug/alchol education etc.

    When difficult child returned home, he was diffused. He was no longer stalking the house looking for a fight and did not seem always angry with us/ the world. He continues to suffer from the traits of ADD/ODD and has no sense of values/morals (lack of affect they call it) or otherwise he has no particular concern for others and is generally focused on how can he accquire what he feel he needs. His only apparant motiviation is self perservation.

    However, the question is still, how do you get desired behavior/ action/ activity from you difficult child? Can he/she be prepared for the world and its concequences/responsibilites? How long does it take for difficult child to learn a desired trait? How do you motivate difficult child to emulate the values/morals that they are missing?

    With ADD the executive funchtions which affect appropriate decision making ability is impared. difficult child is often motiviated by how to get what he wants NOW and not consider what will be the the effect later. (such as doing school work, the consequece at the end of the year is just too far away for him to consider)

    difficult child is hard headed, stubborn and often affected by the ODD. He appears to be willingly choosing not to do things simply because it is what is expected/asked of him. The point that we are at now, is life consequesnces. At age 16 we feel that he must become more independant and be able to function with less supervion. He needs to learn to make appropriate choices and suffer consequences. He will not take direction from us or any authority figure. We cannot figure out any other thing to do besides let him suffer the consequeces. No job/work/chores = no money. If he does not do his school work = summer school & repeat the grade next year. Cutting school/disciple problems/ no homework has resulted in the school filing a PINS application (person in need of supervion) Therefore, we go to the probabtion office tomorrow for the consequences.
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Allan, Kant's philosphy cannot be used with-most of our g'sfg because they have not yet learned to harness their ability to reason. You must TEACH an individual to THINK. Without that, there can be no discussion of morality at all. You must also teach them the parameters of their society, be it family or society at large. It follows that Kant's philosophy is only useful for older, more stable, rational children.

    To quote, "Kant argued that moral requirements are based on a standard of rationality he dubbed the 'Categorical Imperative' (CI). Immorality thus involves a violation of the CI and is thereby irrational. Other philosophers, such as Locke and Hobbes, had also argued that moral requirements are based on standards of rationality. However, these standards were either desire-based instrumental principles of rationality or based on sui generis rational intuitions. Kant agreed with many of his predecessors that an analysis of practical reason will reveal only the requirement that rational agents must conform to instrumental principles. Yet he argued that conformity to the CI (a non-instrumental principle) and hence to moral requirements themselves, can nevertheless be shown to be essentKant argued that moral requirements are based on a standard of rationality he dubbed the 'Categorical Imperative' (CI). Immorality thus involves a violation of the CI and is thereby irrational. Other philosophers, such as Locke and Hobbes, had also argued that moral requirements are based on standards of rationality.

    The quotation you chose, which insists that cause and effect are useless, or reward and punishment are invalid, flies in the face of nearly all famous psychiatrists and philosophers who use developmental guidelines. One famous name that comes to mind is Erik Erikson, who actually assigned ages appropriate for certain stages, but which I have omitted here because they are only guidelines and it is clear that many of our g'sfg spend years in certain stages before they can advance to the next stage.

    1. Ego Development Outcome: Trust vs. Mistrust
    Basic strength: Drive and Hope
    2. Ego Development Outcome: Autonomy vs. Shame
    Basic Strengths: Self-control, Courage, and Will
    3. Ego Development Outcome: Initiative vs. Guilt
    Basic Strength: Purpose
    4. Ego Development Outcome: Industry vs. Inferiority
    Basic Strengths: Method and Competence
    5. Ego Development Outcome: Identity vs. Role Confusion
    Basic Strengths: Devotion and Fidelity
    6. Ego Development Outcome: Intimacy and Solidarity vs. Isolation
    Basic Strengths: Affiliation and Love
    7. Ego Development Outcome: Generativity vs. Self absorption or Stagnation
    Basic Strengths: Production and Care
    8. Ego Development Outcome: Integrity vs. Despair
    Basic Strengths: Wisdom