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  • Writer's pictureJade Kestian

Why should I reward my child for just doing what they are supposed to?

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

If I had a nickel for every parent or guardian who asked me this question in session, I would have... several extra dollars. When people ask this, what I hear is, "Why should I provide a reward for the bare minimum? That isn't deserving of a reward." I think it is a fair question. Who wants their kids to grow up entitled?

Still, I find the premise of the question flawed. Asking if a child deserves praise, assumes that "deserving" is some kind of objective criterion. It isn't. If deserving something matters, then how do we decide who deserves what? Earning something, on the other hand, is a bit more concrete. Earning is also very much a part of everyday life in the real world. People earn salaries, reward points, degrees, all kinds of things. But earning and deserving are different concepts.

I don't concern myself much with what I think people deserve; it's too subjective for me. Instead, I ask: "What is going to be effective to get what I want and need? I encourage my clients, especially parents, to do the same.

So do kids deserve praise for doing the chores or basic required tasks around the house? The answer depends on your perspective and values. But is praising them effective in getting them to do their chores more often? Is it effective in helping them feel appreciated? The answer to those questions is a lot more clear to me. Research suggests praise works to change behavior and improve relationships, and that's good enough for me. Chances are, praising your kids will not spoil them. Praise is more likely support their wellbeing and prepare them to keep earning rewards in the real world as they grow up.

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