Parents often ask me about helping their teen become a responsible adult. I almost always explain that, just like children, adults are always seeking rewards.
As adults, however, we take our reward granting to ourselves as a given. If I am having trouble getting out the door for my daily walk, I can reward myself with a coffee at the Starbucks en route. If a teen is having difficulty loading the dishwasher on time, it’s often difficult for parents to consider rewards for completing the desired task but somehow easier to think of a punishment for not doing so.
I often hear that this isn’t something a child should be rewarded for and that it’s just expected as a contribution to the family. I call BS on this– wouldn’t you be infinitely more likely to scrub the toilet if you knew a reward was on the other end for you?
It’s important to remember in this consumerist age, though, that rewards DO NOT have to be purchased. Sometimes a simple, genuine, “thank you” is a reward in and of itself. Sometimes leeway given in one aspect can make up for doing a chore. With all the electronic stimulation we seek so desperately, extra “screen time” can invigorate someone to do something, even if begrudgingly.
Throughout it all, remember that as a parent you are raising children to be responsible and happy members of society– which includes finishing tasks and reaping the benefits (like WiFi).