When compliance becomes an adult's ultimate goal with children, we will resort to, and justify, manipulation, which includes rewards, punishments, carrots, sticks, bribes and threats.
So what's the problem?
Show me a child who manipulates others, and I will show you a child who has grown up being manipulated.
Not only does the end not justify the means, but a well intentioned, but misdirected, means can ruin the end.
Here's what I mean.
Many years ago, I made a conscious decision to try and abolish rewards and punishments from my teaching and parenting tool box. (Here are all of my posts on rethinking discipline)
The inspiration for this move came from being a miserable teacher, looking for change. When I read Alfie Kohn's book The Schools Children Deserve, I came across a quote that would re-shape my mindset for working with children. The quote belongs to Jerome Bruner, but it has become my teaching and parenting mantra:
"Children should experience their successes and failures not as reward and punishment but as information."There are many profound reasons to adopt such a mindset, but here's one of my favourite.
When my students or son and daughter try and manipulate me with bribes and threats or rewards and punishments to get me to do whatever they want me to do, I can turn to them and honestly say, "I don't use rewards and punishments on you, so don't you bribe and threaten me."
When I call children on their attempts to manipulate me, I don't get into power struggles or arguments because they know I don't use manipulation to get them to do what I want. They know that I don't do things to them to get what I want -- I work with them. I inspire them. I don't manipulate them.
So when they try and manipulate me, I have the best argument for rejecting their manipulation.
I don't manipulate them, so I won't tolerate them manipulating me.
And they know it.