Yassmin Abdel-Magied

S&M: Well-behaved children – Use the stick or (discounted) carrot approach?

Image: EdgewoodPK

Have we lost the ability as a society to do good without being incentivised for it?

Or is that me being a little too cynical?

Hearing of a “well-behaved kids’” discount at a cafe (GET A DISCOUNT OFF YOUR FOOD BILL FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR? IN CALGARY AND NICE, YOU CAN! originally published on Lost @ EMinormade me cringe and roll my eyes simultaneously (a strange sight on a train, let me tell you).

Why?

Well apparently there are now cafes in Calgary where you get a $5.00 discount for having “well-behaved kids.”

Nice…

At first glance, I can see why this is a catchy idea. It can be argued this will encourage people to keep their kids in check. After all, what motivates people more than a discount? The recipients of the discount expressed their joy at being rewarded for their well-behaved daughter, which is delightful.

Yet, it seems slightly judgemental, slightly misplaced.

Why?

To answer that question, another must be asked. What does a financial incentive for good behaviour say about us as a society – particularly when it comes to the behaviour of children?

Granted, we live in a capitalist society where behavioural change is swift if it affects the hip pocket. Still, is this the best way to deal with a perceived “problem,” particularly in the case of well-behaved children? What is the problem that we are trying to solve with this type of incentive? Is targeting the parents the best way?

These café owners clearly think so.

Perhaps it is a little old fashioned to want society to encourage and espouse good values and behaviour for the sake of it, rather than for financial gain. To be fair, this seems like a well-intentioned move by the café – a “thank you” to parents for controlling their children.

However, not everyone will be fortunate enough to have well-behaved children, and it may be more effective to have “family friendly” hours.

I could be completely off the mark. It might be argued that I am hating for the sake of hating.

I do know, by all reports, that was a discount my parents never would have had the pleasure of receiving…

Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Yassmin Abdel-Magied is the president and founder of Youth Without Borders, an organisation that empowers young people to positively change their communities. She serves on various boards and councils and works as an engineer on oil and gas rigs.

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