There’s an interesting passage in Genesis 29. Jacob fell in love with Rachel and he agreed to serve Laban, Rachel’s father, for seven years in order to marry Rachel. Genesis 29:20 tells us those seven years were like a few days to Jacob. Even when Laban tricked Jacob by giving out Leah instead of Rachel, Jacob was still willing to serve Laban for additional seven years! That demonstrates to us the power of motivation. Many people go out to work, not just because they need the job, but because they need the pay check or the salary. Many students work hard at their studies, not because they have nothing else to do, but because they want to graduate with flying colors.
Just as adults can be motivated to reach their goals, children also can be motivated toward positive attitude and appropriate behavior. There’s a saying that the behavior you praise gets repeated. It’s possible to motivate your child to do good. And it’s possible to help your child sustain the good behavior. I’ll like to clarify that “reward” isn’t the same thing as a “bribe”. Moreover, rewarding your child doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve lost leadership as a parent. I think parents should still be able to instruct their children with or without reward system. My point here is, you can take advantage of motivation in the process of training your children to become everything God has destined them to be.
Reward system is scriptural. Hebrews 11:6 describes God as a “rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”. Deuteronomy 28: 1-14 is a list of blessings we stand to receive if we do what God commands us to do. Verse 2 of that chapter states, “And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” Everlasting life is promised to those who believe in Jesus Christ, (John 3:16). In Matthew 5:7, Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” We can see so many examples in the Bible where the Lord is motivating us toward living to please Him. If God will use the reward system over and over, I believe parents should do the same with their children.
The Principle Explained.
Reward system simply means your child gets something as a reward for carrying out certain instruction you gave him or her. The reward must be captivating or motivating enough to get your child inspired. Your instruction must also be very clear and specific. For instance, I practice this principle with my 5-year-old son weekly. The deal is for him to have five “good days” from Monday to Friday and Friday will be his “treat day”. Good day means when I pick him up from school or day care, the teachers have good things to say about his behavior. That means he has been respectful of his teachers and peers. That means he has been compliant with his teachers’ directives. For his treat, he gets to choose what he wants, subject to my approval. In the past, he has asked for Subway sandwich, cookies, buffet at Chinese restaurant, old-fashioned donuts from Donkin Donuts, and pizza from Little Caesars. The good news is my son has now internalized having good days. With or without reward, he now enjoys having “good days”. We have come to the point where I began to explain to him that the joy he derives from having good days is actually a great reward.
There’s another side to this coin. There may be times when a child decides to ignore his parent’s instructions. Despite every effort to motivate a child to do good, he may still defy his parent’s authority. That’s when the parent needs to apply the appropriate consequence(s) to discourage the child’s negative behavior. This will be the subject of my discourse in the next edition. I pray the Lord will strengthen you in raising your child to live for Him.
Pastor Victor Adeola King