Trying to get kids to do “what you want them to” is a thing. When I teach I often poll my classes with this question: how do you get a child to do what you want them to? The answers are wide and varied.
- Bribe them
- Force them
- Ask them continuously (that is, nag them)
- Tell them you’ll be mad if they don’t (also bribing them)
- Punish them if they don’t (also forcing them)
Some folks even use a third party, someone they know the kids love, as leverage. Saying, “so-and-so will be mad if you don’t do this-or-that.”
I am not a child learning specialist, but I can’t see any benefit to denying a child love in order to get them to do the right thing. Don’t we want them to learn to do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing?
If that’s the case, we need to take every effort to teach them why the thing we’re asking is the right thing (we should be checking what we’re asking of them here, as well), show them how work can be playful and joyful (even while it may be difficult or effortful), and not quench their spirit.
If we bribe them, we’re teaching them that bribery works. If we force them we’re teaching them that force works. If we nag them, they will learn to nag. If we put someone on a pedestal, telling the child to do something for their sake, their hearts will be broken when they realize that that person is not pedestal worthy (and no one on this earth is). They will then begin to doubt all that they have done for that person’s sake.
Why not just teach them why the work is valuable in the first place?