When I read Lion’s post today my first thought was, “Great. Now I have to come up with punishments so he’ll accept rewards.” And I hate coming up with punishments. So I figured we were at an impasse. He said he felt like he was topping from the bottom if he got a reward for doing things he should be doing anyway. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that by not accepting the rewards he’s topping from the bottom, too. If I tell him that by cleaning out the garage he can have one day knocked off his sentence and he cleans the garage (which technically he should have done without a reward) but then says he doesn’t want a day off, we’re doing things his way. It may not take a lot of physical effort to come up with rewards and punishments, but since I’m fighting my own nature it is difficult. Why expend the energy if nothing comes of it?
Growing up, I always wondered why less emphasis was placed on the good things people do than on the bad things. Why is it more important to punish than to reward? Don’t I want to encourage good behavior even if it is something he should be doing? Don’t we give kids allowances for doing chores? At work, we’re constantly told we didn’t get certain things done, but when we hold up the body of work that we actually accomplished, they tell us that’s our job. Why didn’t I get this one thing done? Because I was busy doing all these things here. No good. You should have done it all. Why not give some praise for what was done and then perhaps ask how long the other part will take?
Why can’t I give Lion tasks to do and reward him when they are done? Why do I have to punish him for not doing things or for doing the wrong things? I’m not saying I’ll never punish him. I’m just saying it’s not a comfortable way for me to operate. I was actually proud of myself for thinking of a way for him to earn rewards. I don’t have a great track record in the reward/punishment department. If he doesn’t want the reward then it was a waste of my time. Besides, if I’m the one in charge then why does he get to choose if he wants the reward or not?
Right now I’m throwing in the towel for this wait time. Any time off he may have earned has now been eaten up by the punishment I would have given him for topping from the bottom. Net effect: zero. We’ll try again next time.