Monday, August 14, 2006

Performance Plan

Most parents have the best intentions that sometimes turn out to be very bad ideas. Paying children to improve their grades is wrongheaded for so many reasons that its not even worth counting the ways. A very aggressive and abrasive manager I once had gave me some parenting tips that left me quite speechless. She was taking her high-powered boss-woman image - power-suits, Gucci satchel, Blackberry and all way too seriously.

Her method involved giving children "privileges" for their As - the usual suspects i.e. iPods, Nintendos, Gameboys, personal DVD players were all on the list. If they "acted up" in any way or managed only a B, a privilege would be taken away. Her youngest one at the time of this conversation had just been stripped off every last privilege he had formerly enjoyed. Apparently he was depressed because the oldest one still had all of hers intact.

"But he will work very hard to earn it all back" my boss declared confidently. This was the domestic equivalent of a 360 degree review. You assess your direct report as a C and put them on a performance plan. They have to either inch their way out of the plan or get fired. A lot of times, people with children and mortgages will do what it takes to keep their job.


bharath said...

As any animal that is trained by rewards function why won't it work with kids?

I know it seems a little inhumane to do this. but, the same rationale is used in science experiments.

I don't see comments option on individual blog pages.

ggop said...

Saw this blurb yesterday but did not read - so thanks for reminding us.

Some kids definitely need pushing - the carrot strategy works better than intimidation. I know a friend who to this day says her parents did not push her hard enough. (That is unfair but another story)

But whatever happened to gold stars and gifts like favorite books? Have they gone out of vogue?! :-(

What's with this doling out of cash?

Heartcrossings said...

bharath - Long time no see ! Training kids like performing monkeys may be a good idea for some but then expect a monkey's sensitivity too when the kid grows up :)

ggop - I've seen kids excel in whatever field it is because they are driven from the inside. A parent's best accomplishment would be to help the child discover that one thing they feel totally passionate about. The rest takes care of itself sans carrot sans stick. btw: I am a big fan of the gold stars and favorite book bribe but only very sparingly.

Feisty said...

I was a drill sargeant mother in the first half of my parenting career and although it produced "results", it was pretty stern.

I changed my ways before my kids hit their teens and it sure paid off. It is better to help them find their passion, support it, help them any way you can and also understand that they have weaknesses, just like we do.

The other thing I learned is that they are NOT me. They will not have the same experiences or be the same people. I think that my drill sargeant mother routine was for ME, a way to produce clones just like me. Ugh.

Glad I learned before it was too late.

Heartcrossings said...

Feisty - Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your mothering experiences. My natural tendency is to be a drill sargeant. I constantly watch myself and try to cut J some slack sometimes.