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How Can I Prevent Play From Turning Into Work?

Here’s a great idea …

In her book, The Psychology of Parental Control, Wendy S. Grolnick says, “When children do activities for the reward rather than the joy of the activity, they no longer get the feelings of freedom, competence, and pleasure that they had gotten. Their play has turned into work.” (p. 40)

In other words …

As parents, we like to reward our children for the good work they do. Sometimes though, we use rewards in ways that make our children less likely to want to do the things for which we are rewarding them. When children know in advance that they will be rewarded for doing something, their internal motivation is replaced with an external one. The reward becomes payment for their efforts, turning the fun into work. Rewards work best when they are unexpected and unannounced.

How you can use this idea to have a better life …

The next time you want to reward your child for something, do not announce it in advance. If the child doesn’t know until after the fact that they will be rewarded then they will still get the benefit of doing it for themselves, rather than the reward.

To find out more …

about parenting, check out The Parenting Journey or See the World Through My Eyes programs at arfamilies.org, follow us at facebook.com/navigatinglife or contact your local county Extension agent. You can also read Grolnick’s, The Psychology of Parental Control.

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