Rewards And Punishments Become A Prison

Researchers investigated the impact of parenting practices on the amount of time young children spend in front of screens. They found a majority of parents use screen time to control behavior, especially on weekends. This results in children spending an average of 20 minutes more a day on weekends in front of a screen. Researchers say this is likely because using it as a reward or punishment heightens a child’s attraction to the activity.

We don’t use rewards and punishments because they have unpredictable results!


A main reason why we do not use punishments and rewards is because they do not work.

In the study, researchers separated 154 nursery school children into one of three groups and had all of them try chicory, a bitter salad plant, during break time. One group was merely asked to try the veggie with no other incentive, while the other two received bribes for trying the green: one group was offered stickers to win a toy and another received verbal praise, the Daily Mail reports.

Researchers found that bribery worked in the first trial, with 90 percent of kids who got verbal praise and 85 percent who got stickers ending up eating the food. On the other hand, in the group that didn’t receive a bribe, 85 percent of the children tried the veggie.

However, researchers noticed something interesting about the kids’ eating habits over time. After all three groups were given chicory to eat eight times in a month, the group that received no incentive ate the veggie the most. Those who received bribes, meanwhile, were not more likely to eat the green.

Arbitrary rewards and verbal encouragement might convince a child to alter their choices initially, but over time it wears off and the child is worse off than ever.