Bet the answer will surprise you.
Take last Saturday, for instance. My six-year-old son refused to practise the piano.“I don’t want to do it!” he declared. “I don’t even like the way this piece sounds so why should I have to do it?”
I tried everything: coaxing, explaining, threatening, yelling… I even grovelled. He flat-out refused. By the time we reached piano class, those ivories had not been tickled – not one little bit.
I thought I had this parenting gig sorted.
My first-born daughter was a breeze: cheerful, caring, considerate... It was easy to achieve those “positive parenting” goals. But along came my second-born son and moved those goal-posts to Timbuktu. Oh, he’s cute and clever alright – but his stubborn streak would put any mule to shame.
There are days when he just pushes my buttons.
Days when his bed-time can’t come quickly enough.
Days when I want to throw a tanti myself.
Days when I want to crack open a bottle of red at 5pm – and I don’t even drink!
After weeks of butting heads, I turned in desperation to – where else? – the interwebs and read an interesting article. A recent experiment done by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that when children were punished, it resulted in an outcome that was two or three times better than when they were rewarded.
During the study, children were asked to listen for clicks or look out for flashes on a screen. They were rewarded with token money for a correct response, but penalised by having money deducted from them for an incorrect answer. You would think that kids would want more money and work towards that, right? Wrong!