I cannot stand the Treasure Box. The treasure box is everywhere. At school, at gymnastics, at the dentist’s office, at the doctor’s office, at the checkout line…it’s everpresent. I get it. We like rewards for a job well done. We like to say, “hey, you’re really awesome and here’s a little token of our appreciation.” But when does it become overkill? When does it get to be a little too much? Do you hate it or love it?
Damn the treasure box. Every Friday, La Grande comes home with a little piece of
treasure junk to reward her for doing exactly what she’s supposed to do: act like a well-mannered human being. At first, I thought it was just a thing for Kindergarten. Maybe it was just a little something to help students adjust to classroom etiquette and motivate them to follow the rules. Heck, with 32 five year olds in the classroom, the teachers should’ve gotten to go to the treasure wine box. Forget about the kids! And then first grade started. I’m thinking, surely expectations are up, standards are up, and the treasure box is gone.
NOPE. No such luck. The treasure box is in full effect. My child brings home her daily green bingo dot in her homework notebook, and 4 dots later, boom. She presents me with her awesome treasure:
I mean, come on. Is that even a treasure? That looks like someone’s left over PlayMobil stuff. Which I totally adore. PlayMobil is overpriced, but you know its like upscale Legos. But I digress…as usual…
What the heck is the point of the treasure box? You know what, forget that. Let me tell you how the treasure box has affected my home life.
Me: “La Grande, go pick up your room and come down and set the table.”
La Grande: “Okay, Mom. But if I do everything really good, can I get a little reward?”
Me: “No. Our house doesn’t work that way. We do all do what we have to do because it is what is expected of us. There aren’t rewards for doing what you’re supposed to do. That’s just a given.”
La Grande: “Oh. Because in school we get a treasure for doing things.”
Me: “That might work at school, but that doesn’t work here. We all pitch in, we’re a team. We do it because it is right, not because we’re going to get something out of it. But you know what? I’ll be very grateful for your help and will have a big kiss and hug waiting for you when you finish.”
La Grande: <under her breath> “Alright, but I wish we had a treasure box.”
I get self-esteem. I get the importance of lifting our children up so that they believe they can achieve anything they put their minds to. But that’s about where it ends. I do not believe that children need to be constantly rewarded for doing what they’re already supposed to do. That’s just silly. Life doesn’t work that way. If it did, I should have treasure beyond my wildest dreams.
Instead, I’ve learned an internal system of rewards that drives me. Forget the external. The external isn’t always there in real life. Do a good job? So what? You do a good job because it makes YOU feel good. Not everything in life comes with an external reward, and it makes me very sad thinking about the message we send to our children by teaching them that rewards are a driving reason to do a good job.
So, how do you feel about the treasure box? Does it irk you as much as it does me? Am I overreacting? I wanna know!
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