I am a fan of Rabbi Horowitz and appreciate his timely columns, practical advice, and willingness to look at controversial issues. However, I was saddened to see this advice on rewards/incentives given in a recent column on appropriate ways to reward children:
"It is important to keep in mind that rewards and incentives need not be financial in nature. For your children, your time and attention is often a far more valuable commodity than money. In fact, a friend of mine offers an hour of his time as an incentive program for his kids. Each child who earns a number of points over weeks or months for contentious attention to schoolwork/homework, or for completing chores at home gets an hour to spend with him – and he/she gets to decide how that time will be spent."
There are some things in life that I believe should be given freely. Giving time to your children is one such thing. Using time as a currency is so mind-boggling to me that I find myself with a distaste in my mouth and without the words to explain the distaste. Our children need us, even when they (say they) don't or appear not to need us. Children should not have to earn time with us. Rather, we should be 'forcing' it upon them so to speak.
Once again, I will recommend a book called Hold on To Your Kids which looks at the importance of parental attachments over peer attachments. I wouldn't rate the book as an exciting read, but it is definitely a worthwhile read. Somehow, denying a child time (the flip side of the reward coin, especially if/when other siblings are "earning" that time), seems to me like an excericse in cutting off your nose to spite your face.
So readers, if you use rewards/incentive (my regular readers know I'm not a regular chart keeper, reward giver-everything in moderation as it is said), do you vote yeah or nay? I vote Nay. I don't make my children earn their dinner, nor will I make them earn my time. They are getting it whether they want it or not.