The week's best parenting advice: October 18, 2022

The pros and cons of gamifying parenthood, don't be too hard on your moody teen, and more

A child.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images)

1. The pros and cons of gamifying parenthood

On a family vacation last summer, Josh Wilbur started awarding "experience points" to his stepkids in order to get them to do their chores. Before long, the experiment had developed into a full-blown video-game-in-real-life, with levels and rewards — and it worked, but was it a good idea? On one hand, such games simplify choices in a way that can be clarifying for kids. On the other, relying too heavily on external motivators — "the short-term, high-carb-candy-bar version of motivation" — can dampen a child's capacity for internal motivation, and make them feel like your love for them is conditional. "Essentially, to parent through rewards is to play with the levers of a child's dopamine," writes Wilbur, "This can be effective as long as it's done with the goal of building up children's autonomy rather than bending them to our parental will."

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Stephanie H. Murray

Stephanie H. Murray is a public policy researcher turned freelance writer.