The error of “if – then”
We should definitely avoid saying explicitly to a child that IF he does (or he does not) do something, THEN he will receive a reward.
“If you gather your toys, then you will have a lollipop“
The pattern “if-then” can push the child do something right away, yet it seldom inspires him to real effort or to do it again. (Dr. Haim G. Ginott – “Between parent and child”)
We might have to do with intentional negative behaviors that obligate to be rewarded in order to be transformed into common sense ones.
We can find the same system working at adults, announcing a reward at the beginning of the project – and offering it under condition – will focus the person to obtain the reward rather than find the best solution for the project. (Daniel Pink – “Drive”)
The surprise of “Now that”
Announcing the reward after the task has been successfully fulfilled can bring much more satisfaction.
Rewards are more useful and better received when they come unexpectedly. They really represent recognition and appreciation that stimulates long term effort.