Which camp are YOU in?

There are two camps of being raised, IMO,
One is the reward system, where good actions are quickly
rewarded and bad ones call for punishment, “time out”
or a lecture, etc.
Two is the concept, that one should behave because you
love your parents and don’t want them to be displeased with
you, you MUST NOT do it for hope of a reward!

The first method raises children who are BEHAVIOR oriented,
they judge people according to their actions. They are firm
believers in a Judgemental God.
The second, of which I am familiar with, raises children who
are not sensitive to behaviors of people as much as how
much they CARE or love in their intentions, they don’t necessarily
believe in retribution of wrongs, and are fuzzy about being
rewarded for right actions.

What are your thots about this, both parents AND children?

I would recommend a) whatever works with a particular child, because I have seen so many third children absolutely frustrate their parents whose first two had enticed them to believe they had the “perfect system” and b) error in favor of the system that teaches the child to do the right thing out of their own volition and their own fondness for the right thing. You will not be standing there with the carrot and the stick forever, and besides, children like to be able to take credit for their own accomplishments. Let them do that!

I would strictly avoid anything that teaches a child that bad behavior is not based on decisions that can be changed and skills that can be mastered, but evidence of a bad child. A child who believes himself a bad child is going to take the “I may as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb” philosophy. A child who believes that the same high spirits and strong will that get him into trouble can also give him an outstanding backbone to do the good, the imaginative, and the particularly praiseworthy will stick with a program of self-improvement and self-control.

Most of all: Be consistent, not unpredictable.
And of course, one cannot neglect to teach the facts of the faith with regards to sin, salvation, formation and examination of conscience, mercy and justice, the final judgment (including Whose Job That Is and is not), heaven, and hell. To know about these things and other “facts of the faith” is the patrimony of the baptized.

I think my husband and I employ both of those techniques. We provide some praise and affirmation, but not always. Sometimes rewards are offered, but often they aren’t.

If you never reward or compliment good behavior, your children won’t feel appreciated and motivated. If you always reward it, they come to be greedy and expect the reward.

Like most things, a moderate approach works best.

Thank you for your insights, Easter joy, I am delighted that
you indirectly praised my parent’s method of raising us.
and Avocadomom, I AGREE that parents should employ
BOTH methods and not exclusively use one over the
other. Unfortunately, my parents were CONSISTENT.

I think I was raised in the first camp…but when I have kids, I think I will try the second camp. I think it’s really important for a kid to see WHY an action is wrong and not just to avoid it because of fear of punishment.

The second one is more pure.

It is great as long as the little person realizes that usually a rule is a rule even if they do not understand it or agree with it. Explanations can help a great deal, but the child should never be lead to believe that the parents are proposing a vote on what is and is not moral behavior. That mistake accounts for much of what our society is currently suffering. Besides, a child without a lot of emotional empathy really does not care how other people feel about what they do. That child needs to know that they need to behave themselves even if they don’t care how other people feel.

God bless you.

I don’t necessarily think there are only two camps on how to raise children. Therefore it is impossible for me to answer.

For my children I would have to say BOTH. Especially when children are very young, it is difficult to reason with them so a quick “time out” in the corner for hitting his brother on the head with a wooden block was what was necessary. As they grew and matured we talked about a lot of things and encouraged reason and kindness for the sake of being kind.

It sounds like your parents were wonderful, what a blessing!


Also, I have to mention that there is an overlap between the two camps, in that having your parents pleased with you is a reward and having them displeased with you is a punishment.

Also, as benign as the second camp sounds in print, in real life, it can be used in manipulative and selfish ways. “If you loved me, you’d do XYZ.” “Can’t you see how your behavior hurts me, etc”

Yes. I have taught my children that a) just because you feel guilty or someone else is upset does not mean you are doing the wrong thing and conversely b) just because you don’t feel guilty and no one is complaining about you does not mean you have done the right thing. We need to be taught to measure our behavior against objective standards, not just our emotional reactions. We also need to be taught that we are bound by the dictates of a properly formed conscience, not by our feelings of guilt or pride over what we’re doing. Otherwise we are very vulnerable to both outside manipulation and also the hardening of our own hearts.

I belong to the yelling camp. Not screaming,. Maybe I should say correcting in a louder stern voice?

For some of my kids- I don’t yell because they are sensitive-so I give a look and that’s enough with a warning of punishment.

But for my more “ahem” curious children-I correct with a louder stern voice.
If it does not work-then they get punished-ie no tv, playtime ends, no car and so on.

For a job well done, I praise them.

I am not a fan of charts with stickers and things like this.

If you just raise children with the reward system, they can turn out to want a reward for everything they do. If you just punish, they turn into people pleasers. You have to instull internal controls for behavior, in a loving way. My yelling is not a cruel yelling, it’s just a step back and look at what you are doing-kind of yelling.


Rewards and punishments, or consequences, are a reality of human existence. They are not an invention of those people who believe in a “judgemental God.” That’s nonsense.

IF I eat too much, I will gain weight and possibly be unhealthy. If I don’t eat enough, I will lose weight and possibly be unhealthy.

If I base my eating according to my feelings of what is “right and wrong,”, I would eat without restraint, but because I understand the rewards and consequences of balanced eating, I try to eat moderately (and sadly, I often choose to overeat, and therefore I show the consequences of these choices in my body).

I I disobey laws, I risk arrest, fines, imprisonment, and loss of reputation. If I obey laws, I will probably live in peace and freedom.

I I hit someone, they may hit me back. If I don’t hit someone, they may still hit me, but chances are good that I will walk around unscathed.

If I don’t go to work, I will not receive a paycheck. If I go to work, I will receive a paycheck. If I go to work and don’t receive a paycheck, I will not go to work. Perhaps some of you would continue working without a paycheck, but I would look for a job that rewards me with a paycheck. Good feelings don’t pay bills!

If I am baptized, I am a Christian with a hope of heaven. If I refuse baptism, I am at very real risk of spending eternity in hell.

Children need to learn that all of their actions have consequences, either good or bad. Using rewards and consequences in their rearing teaches them this reality. The older the child gets, the more necessary it becomes to explain the “whys” of the consequences; e.g., if they hit their brother with a wooden block, brother will cry and possibly have to take a trip to the emergency room if the hit was hard, and the hitter will be punished.

But when children are tiny, they do not have the reasoning capacity to understand or reason. It’s fine to explain why they are receiving a reward or a punishment ("Mommy smiles when you share your toys! or “Mommy can’t hear you when you use your whining voice.”).

But the consequence will happen whether or not the child understands. That’s reality!

There are a lot of unhealthy people who truly don’t understand how their own actions contribute to their poor health. There are a lot of people who wrecked their car and have no understanding of the physics involved in the accident, or the mechanical damage to their vehicle.

Understanding doesn’t affect reality–actions have consequences whether or not we understand them. Kids need to learn this, or they will not be able to function as adults.

I think sometimes parents don’t recognize that their little tiny children are growing every minute and will one day become adults. I think some parents think their children will be little forever, and they fail to prepare their children for being an adult.

Huh. How is parental approval not a reward? How is parental disapproval not a punishment? :confused:

Moreover, this strategy runs the danger of making one identify “love” with “approval”. I much prefer the other strategy.


Children have to grow up to be adults who understand that their actions have consequences, and that it’s not just a question of doing stuff to please mom and dad or filling out a sticker chart.

For a while, one of my kids didn’t understand why she should have to clean up after a misdeed. Hadn’t she already said sorry? Wasn’t that enough? It’s taken a while to get more or less to the point that she understands that “sorry” isn’t good enough. (Oddly enough, though, people immediately understand that when their ox is gored. It’s understanding the need to make reparation to other people when other people have been injured that takes teaching.)

Cat, let me explain to you, that altho I AGREE with you
about the reality of consequences in life, there is also
the treatment of the child, whether with RESPECT or
as an animal, with rewards and punishment!

Some people would say that it is more respectful to allow children to experience the natural consequences of their behavior.

If my kids spend all their money, it’s gone. If there’s something that they want later but don’t have money for, I’m just allowing them to experience the consequences of their choices if I don’t give them more money to buy the item.

A child raised without rewards and punishments will become an animal.

(Even parents who say they don’t reward or punish really do.)


The Lord gives us good guidelines on what is expected behavior. The world gives us consequences for our choices. The rest is up to personal opinion and responsibility. Parents don’t have to do either job.

I believe raising children means to protect, nurture, educate, and guide them through their growth and understanding of the Lord, the world, and who they are in both, so that they’re able to do God’s will here and then be together with Him in heaven.

It requires helping them to figure out both behavior and motivation so that they’re balanced in body, mind, and soul. A balanced person is discerning and compassionate. Too much of one or the other creates an imbalance where they misunderstand God to be vengeful or lax instead of just and merciful. A parent’s job is to guide as God and His plan are revealed and to cooperate with it. That’s enough work without monitoring for required parentally-approved behaviors or intentions, too.


Funny. I don’t feel like an animal when I get my paycheck for my 40 hours a week of work at the hospital.

In fact, if I DIDN’T get that paycheck, I would feel like an animal, although not really. Even a work animal gets a reward for a job well-done.

GLam8833, I’ve earned a few bragging rights here. I’m a 57-year-old woman who raised two lovely daughters using the methods of Dr. James Dobson (consequences of actions). Both of those lovely daughters (now 31 and 28) rise up often and call me and their Daddy “blessed,” and state that they will raise their children the same way they were raised.

Yes, everyone, I do realize that not everyone agrees with Dr. Dobson’s methods, and that there are children who do not respond well to a system that makes use of the basic human principle that all actions have consequences. That’s fine, as long as you are raising your children well and enjoying the experience.

GLam8833, I think that perhaps you have a mistaken idea of what this method of child-rearing is like in real-life. I get the impression that you think that a “consequences-based system” is one in which the child jumps through hoops and receives a treat from the parents for succeeding, and a blow from parents if they fail. This is not at all what the system is like in everyday life.

I strongly suggest that you read Dare To Discipline by Dr. James Dobson, and you will have a better understanding of this method.

BTW, Dr. Dobson is a clinical psychologist, not a Protestant preacher or minister, and he has decades of practical experience working with children. I say this because many people think that’s he’s some kind of preacher, but he isn’t. :slight_smile:

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