Is It Possible to Discipline Children Without Rewards?

Everything in excess is bad, even rewards. In this article, we'll talk about discipline without rewards.
Is It Possible to Discipline Children Without Rewards?
María Matilde

Written and verified by the pedagogue and trainer María Matilde.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Some parents tend to use rewards when they want their children to adopt certain behaviors. This practice might be okay once in a while, although we shouldn’t do it in excess. With that in mind, let’s look at ways to discipline children without rewards in the following article.

What does it mean to discipline children without rewards?

To improve our children’s behavior, we usually use behavior modification techniques, which consist of giving them rewards. Therefore, if we want our children to do or not to do something, we offer them a reward in exchange.

Following this idea, if parents want their children to brush their teeth every day, eat vegetables or stay at school without crying, they offer their kids rewards or presents. These presents can be material things, like toys or food, or even extra time to go to the park with friends or relatives.

Is It Possible to Discipline Children Without Rewards?

A reward or two might be fine, but moderation is key

So, if you need to reward your kids every time you ask them to do something, you’re probably making a mistake. In fact, you should be careful, because they may start manipulating you in order to obtain a present. Therefore, your children shouldn’t get used to receiving a reward every time they have to modify a certain behavior. On the contrary, they should do it as an act of responsibility.

For this reason, they must be intrinsically motivated to modify certain behaviors, and this attitude shouldn’t depend on receiving a reward or not. So, it might be a mistake to discipline our children using rewards all the time.

Discipline children without rewards, a complicated but not impossible task

It’s very important for parents to avoid rewarding their kids to obtain certain results from them. Because, by doing this, parents don’t get long-term educational results. By giving constant prizes or rewards, they don’t teach children responsibility, commitment or effort.

Parents must promote an intrinsic sense of rewards in children. And, children should feel satisfaction when trying to be better people or when learning something new. The reward should be the attitude change, the knowledge they acquire and their own motivation to modify certain behaviors.

Discipline without rewards.

In conclusion, we can say that it isn’t easy to discipline children without rewards, but it isn’t impossible. You just have to make them aware of the importance of changing their attitudes. This way, they’ll learn that their biggest reward is to become a better person and to achieve their goals.

“No one has ever done anything great or successful has ever done it simply because he was attracted by what we call a ‘reward’ or by the fear of what we call a ‘punishment’. Every victory and every advance in human progress comes from some inner compulsion.” 

– Maria Montessori –

Final thoughts…

You shouldn’t confuse rewards or presents with praise and motivation. It’s one thing to use rewards in order to make children do what we want, and another thing to help them grow and mature. Therefore, you shouldn’t stop praising and motivating them. If you do this, you won’t feel the need to use rewards to discipline your children. 

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.