Considering the fact that many parents use sticker charts to encourage their children to obey instructions, behaviorists now say the system is effective on the short-term but quite costly and counter-effective on the long run - The Atlantic reports.
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With a sticker chart, a child gets a sticker which can be redeemed for prizes, outings, and treats for obeying parents’ instructions such as cleaning the room, brushing the teeth, and doing homework; but researchers say the behavior-modification system is so effective that it is beginning to fail parents’ expectations at the long-term.
For instance, when a child has become so used to be immediately rewarded or promised a reward for obeying his parents, he soon develops a psychology of “what’s in it for me” when parents and others ask him to do anything. He attaches transactional value to almost every task and would never exercise goodwill to getting things done.
“Sticker charts are powerful psychological tools, and they can go beyond affecting children’s motivation to influence their mindset and even affect their relationship with parents,” the author of the study, Erica Reischer, a long-term family psychologist, wrote.
According to Reischer, a child may become so used to receiving rewards for obedience to the extent of asking “what will you give me?” as time passes, but he soon grows up and declines a reward in the face of getting any task done, saying “No, thanks” when offered a reward in order to do anything. At this stage, he chooses not to obey and chooses to forfeit the reward.
Professor Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist from Duke University wrote a book titled “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions” in which he analyzes this issue.
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“If you created a relationship [with your kids] that is very transactional, what do you expect when everyone gets older?” Ariely finally submitted. “I’m not saying that giving kids a sticker is going to make them send their parents to assisted living, but if you think about the idea, it’s a step in that direction.”