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Money and Morality: Children Reward


In the contemporary western society, rising children who uphold moral values, integrity and hard work has become a big challenge. The life lessons that the children are consistently exposed to serve to perpetuate the incorrect moral behaviors that they internalize. It is important to recognize and appreciate a child whenever he/she does something right. Good grades deserve recognition, so is an exemplary performance in sports. Similarly, a token of appreciation would suffice whenever a child goes out of the way to do the right thing. However, the kind of reward and/or form of appreciation that the child receives is of great importance.

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Argument for and against Rewarding Children

Parents and teachers should be able to distinguish the thin line that exists between offering a reward and bribing a child. Arguelles argues that offering rewards especially monetary is akin to commercialization of good work (108). Some experts on the other hand, support this as an incentive for a continuation of the good deed and/or work. They draw a similarity between rewarding children to everyday adult life: adults go to work to be paid; you perform well in your duties at work and you get a salary raise and/or bonuses; you drive carefully and avoid accident and you pay less insurance premium and the list goes on and on. They argue that incentives and rewards act as a motivator to encourage people to strive to work harder. However, does the principle hold true for both adults and children?

When should children be rewarding

Experts in child psychology and development agree with the assertion that rewarding children have the tendency of encouraging them to work hard especially when there is a promise of even a better reward, they are however quick to warn that, this may lead to a long term negative effect on the child. Children should not be rewarded for an act of honesty or kindness. This virtue should instead be cultivated in the child through similar actions from parents, teachers and other adults. Small gifts, such as learning aids, will always motivate a child to perform well and complete a task. The disadvantage of such gifts to a young child is that they will always enhance dependency on outside motivators to learn as opposed to internal self-motivation. The pride children hold in their ability to accomplish a task on their own is eroded. Similarly, such gift dissipates personal initiative by children and lends itself more as a bribe than an incentive.

Effects of reward on a child’s character development

Offer of reward deprives children of the opportunities to choose to do the right thing on their own volition. Rewards essentially narrows down children’s perspective of a task or role and diminishes their initiative to do the task their own way. Children will equally have a tendency to focus on the reward rather than the task.

The analogy that adults work hard for a commensurate pay, is not similar to rewarding children to perform better. In most cases adults work for more than just the paycheck, they look for career growth, job satisfaction and many more. Offering children reward for good performance is like teaching them to appreciate only the “paycheck”.


Rewarding children has both positive and negative implications. Parents and teachers should therefore practice positive reinforcement irrespective of whether they choose to reward children or not. Long lasting positive virtues are acquired by consistently communicating to children good behavior and moral standing both verbally and through actions

Work Cited

Arguelles, Mary. “Money for Morality.” Newsweek 1991: 108 -110. Print

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Reading response

According to Arguelles, offering of reward to a child for a positive gesture or hard work should be highly discouraged, she argues that the social construction of the society has laid great emphasis on material reward at the expense of the development self integrity and honesty among children.

Arguelles contends that parents should cultivate in children the notion that doing the right thing like working hard at school or being kind and honest should be a sufficient motivator for their actions. She further asserts that, parents and teachers should be the role model for children. Even though she agrees that, appreciating a child is of great importance in the child psychological development, she is quick to point out that offer of material gift to children as a motivator or as a form of appreciation particularly in matters of kindness, honesty or integrity amount to bribing the child.

This article points out to the loss of ethical guide that should essentially serve as the principle that drives our morality. The notion of doing something because there is a reward tied to it builds a culture where nothing is allowed to fail or succeed because it was bound to. Continued effort to offer reward for something, Arguelles state, would eventually lead to lack of genuine inner sense of accomplishment. She gives an analogy of consistent diet of candy making apple or orange to taste sour. Arguelles stress this position by mentioning books in childcare which offered same advice “don’t bribe your child with ice cream to get them to eat spinach; it makes the spinach look bad”.

She concludes the article by reaffirming that internalizing the attitude and culture of hard work in the children, at the same time encouraging them has a better and more long lasting effect than the offer of material gifts.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, January 7). Money and Morality: Children Reward.

Work Cited

"Money and Morality: Children Reward." StudyCorgi, 7 Jan. 2022,

1. StudyCorgi. "Money and Morality: Children Reward." January 7, 2022.


StudyCorgi. "Money and Morality: Children Reward." January 7, 2022.


StudyCorgi. 2022. "Money and Morality: Children Reward." January 7, 2022.


StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Money and Morality: Children Reward'. 7 January.

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