The Dad Mindset
The Dad Mindset Show
Why rewards and punishment don't work

Why rewards and punishment don't work

What are your long term goals for your children?

Are they to be:

  • Happy 

  • Ethical

  • Caring

  • Compassionate

  • Independent

  • Self-reliant

  • Curious

  • Critical thinkers

Or some variation on this theme?

If that’s the case, throw out the carrot and the stick because research shows that rewards and punishment don’t work. Well what the heck am I going to do you might ask?

This podcast episode (one of my favourites to revisit) with Alfie Kohn emphasises the importance of unconditional love in parenting, contrasting it with the common practice of using rewards and conditional affection to manipulate a child's behaviour. 

The more you use power on children to get them to do what you want, the less influence you’ll probably have on their lives - Thomas Gordon

Traditional parenting advice often focuses on control and compliance rather than meeting children's true needs. However, research indicates that treating children with respect, understanding their perspectives, and empowering them to make decisions is a much better approach for raising happy, ethical, and independent critical thinking individuals.

That’s why Alfie advocates for loving our children unconditionally and considering our children's needs rather than demanding strict obedience.

You can start by asking yourself the questions:

  • What does my child need right now?

  • How can I meet those needs?

  • What are my long-term goals for my child?

  • What are some ways to respond in situations rather than react?

  • How can I be an even better parent than my parents?

Practice perspective taking 

Try to imagine how you would feel if somebody just said what you said to your child (or used the tone you just used) to you, then go one step further and imagine now how it feels from your child’s perspective (because what might be ok with you, might impact them very differently because you are not the same person).

Key takeaways:

  1. Treat your kids respectfully

  2. Do perspective taking

  3. Ask a lot more questions than telling.

Good luck!

Big hug


To find out more about Alfie’s work visit

The Dad Mindset
The Dad Mindset Show
Hi, I’m Rich Bolus.
Join me as I explore insights from parents and experts as I apply a growth mindset to parenting.