Thursday, June 05, 2014

Reward Charts for ignoring anxiety...

Yesterday I received an email from our class representative for Ari´s class, she was passing on the slides from an information session which had been held at the school early this week about anxiety in children.

I read through the slides with Erik and Lukas last night - partly to raise the topic of anxiety and partly just for fun; to see what the advice was. All three of us recognised that Bryn is suffering some anxiety at the moment and that Erik used to suffer considerable anxiety, but that both Lukas and Ari seem not to have.

We looked at the symptoms and the behaviours, and how to deal with the behaviours. Several of the suggested approaches to handling the behaviours - particularly school avoidance - seem to be in the form of praise and reward charts.


I found it interesting that my boys saw straight through the manipulation of praise and reward charts - particularly the suggestion of a sticker chart for 'going to school'. They both expressed the attitude that a sticker was hardly compensation for doing something that made you feel physically ill, or afraid. 'Oh yeah, risk being bashed by the class bully - get a sticker! Woo hoo!' said Lukas.

They registered that getting help from a GP or counsellor seemed to be listed only as a very last option, and that before that the solution seemed to be to get the child to suck up their anxiety in response to praise and sticker charts.

So much advice to parents seems to be about how to get children to stop being inconvenient rather than addressing the problem the child is actually expressing an issue with. Let's not try to rationalise your fear or address the cause of your feeling of threat, just be a good little kid and suppress your anxiety, and here have a sticker!

I'm glad my children recognise manipulation for what it is*.

*reward charts for chores is another matter - I'm specifically talking about rewarding children for ignoring their feelings of anxiety

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Good Job!