• Use of Incentives

Posted by: kidhelper on Monday, October 1st, 2012


Use of Incentives!

I do believe in incentives, but with some reservations. I do understand that there are external motivation and internal motivation. An example of an external motivation for children might be a prize for accomplishing something the teacher wants them to do. An example of an internal motivation might be the desire to discover the answer to a problem for them selves, without help or reward.

I am personally familiar with the historic Sunday school reward system for perfect attendance, bring your Bible, learn your memory verse and bring a friend, which was rewarded with an annual perfect attendance pin, etc.

In more recent years, it seems we have moved away from this, but what I now appreciate about that form of incentive is that it was uniform, all the teachers did that, not just one.

So here are a dozen problems I see with the giving of incentives.

  1. There needs to be agreement about what kind of incentives should be given for your whole program.
  2. There should be a policy about incentives that applies to all the teachers.
  3. We should understand that some programs are designed for  achievement and use incentives, i.e., Boy Scouts and Awana.
  4. We should avoid external incentives for things children cannot control, like being a twin, or being the tallest.
  5. We should not provide incentives for moral development.
  6. We must realize that external motivation can lead to internal motivation when the behavior becomes a habit.
  7. We need to distinguish the difference between a gift and an incentive. One is the result of an accomplishment. The other requires no accomplishment, (except turning eight! Ha)
  8. Having an occasional contest or competitive challenge of teams, gender, or classes produces some fun. Learning how to win and loose is really a life lesson.
  9. I would not advocate that children “get something” for everything they do. There are many behaviors in life that have no external motivation attached to them.
  10. We must not neglect the power of praise, recognition, appreciation and acknowledgement as re-enforcers to desired behavior.
  11. Conversely, the power of guilt, shame and/or public accusation can, but may not, motivate persons to right behaviors.
  12. Avoiding any incentives is one extreme, and excessive use of incentives is the other extreme. Balance and moderation is desirable, with an occasional use of incentives being a real option.

So the unification and moderation, I believe, are preferred for incentives.

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