From an infant to a 10-year old child, the young guns are now attracted to various gadgets, especially the smartphones. Their increasing addiction towards television, smartphones and other gadgets has become a problem. The carrot-and-stick approach still exists when it comes to discipline children. New generation parents have found out that they can simply snatch away the gadgets from their children’s hands to teach them a lesson. As a reward, they give their smartphone or tablet to their children to play games for an hour or two.
The carrot-and-stick approach is the practice of reward and punishment to encourage the desired behaviour. It was a popular and effective way of making stubborn mules work. Studies say that almost half of the parents having children under to eight-year-olds reward mobile devices for good behaviour while nearly 60% of the parents take away gadgets from their children as a punishment. In the modern era, it is difficult to say how justified the method is when it is the matter of disciplining children.
A child obsessed with gadgets may start to throw tantrums if it is snatched away from him. Many parents complain that the reasoning approach often does not work for their children. So, they try the carrot-and-stick approach. For instance, the parents may say that if they complete their homework on time then they can use the gadgets to play games. However, a number of psychological experts say that the parents should help their children to develop “intrinsic” motivation such that they will complete their tasks on their own accord.
Experts Opinion on the Carrot-and-Stick Approach
Daniel Pink, the author of the book Drive says that the method would only encourage the children and lead them towards the wrong path. They will think that they only have to please their parents to get a gadget. It’s like “paying” kid with iPhones, tablets or cash. The author further says, “There is no higher value to it. It is simply for the reward.”
Alfie Kohn in his book Punished by Reward highlights the problems of the carrot-and-stick method. If the promise is unfulfilled then, the reward automatically reverses into punishment. Moreover, the rewards and punishment method will not create a strong relationship between parent and child. Like Pink, Alfie Kohn also says that the reason for motivation is misleading.
Dr. Justin Coulson , in his article published in Family Studies , says that the parents following this approach would have to daily supervise their children to ensure that they complete their chores properly. Coulson says that intrinsic motivation can be developed if the parents make efforts to explain the cause and effect of doing a work. Snatching a device away is simply no option, in his opinion.
It is also true to an extent that children obsessed with gadgets do not develop proper social and communication skills. They find it difficult to mix with other kids or family members at a gathering even if they can easily communicate by texting. This means that they are not so good in face-to-face communication. The situation is similar in case of playing physical games. Many children also find it difficult to focus on their textbooks and their sleeping patterns also change. This has an adverse effect on their health.
What do People Encouraging the Carrot-and-Stick Method Have to Say?
Another research says that the sticks instead of having a negative effect influence the behaviour of a child more than the rewards. They say that giving rewards to their children encourages them to complete their work on time. These parents say that they find it easy to handle bad behaviour by using gadgets in the carrot-and-stick approach.
Many parents use this methodology to develop “intrinsic motivation”. The parents navigate their children through certain websites useful for their children, without overbearing on them. They “co-engage” with the gadget be it smartphone or computer when their children are using the gadgets. Often they allocate a specific time when their children can play games on the tablets or smartphones. In short, the parents plan a routine for their children.
Nowadays, the parents cannot ignore the importance of gadgets in modern life. Internet and smartphones have become the means of livelihood to many. An extensive number of websites are available that teach children Maths, Science, English and other subjects. Tech-savvy children find it easy to understand a chapter by seeing its interactive video rather than reading it monotonously from the textbook. In such cases, the carrot-and-stick approach is hardly appropriate. The parents should monitor how much time their children are spending with the gadgets for studying and other useful activities. Moreover, playing games for some time is not harmful to the kids. Therefore, the necessity of the carrot-and-stick approach is ambiguous at best.