A 13-year-old was honest and open with the parents.
The parents praised honesty regarding a tricky subject and thanked the child for confiding in them. They agreed with the child that some thinking time was needed on the parent's side before responding with an answer to an associated request.
What happened next:
The child confided in one parent, that after receiving praise, they would consequently think twice about sharing issues/requests where parents would say "no"/be against.
The parents are divided in response. The views are:
If you praise an expected behavior (i.e. not out of the ordinary stuff) then you get this result; ∴ only praise unexpected behavior and not the little stuff
(For clarification: Motivational praise should be saved for special, not every day things or things we always expect - less „it‘s great that you told me the truth“, more „it was very kind of you to go and buy flowers for your sick aunt all by yourself“)
Praise needs to be for everything you expect/hope to see repeated; the unusual reaction from the child, but not associated to praise, ∴ continue to praise as before
Praise leads to lying or unwished-for change of behavior - how, why, how should the parents counter and adapt?
The child is currently not around and cannot be consulted; the parents are unable to meet for a few days and are looking for input.
Edit for clarity
The child‘s wish was to undertake something…
- They‘ve never done it before
- It is capable of doing it (as in, has the competencies to do so)
- It would normally involve the parents as it is to do it with a choice of how to spend pocket money (explicitly, in-app purchases in a cellphone game; suggestion from the child to do so via a voucher for relevant AppStore)
The parents‘ hesitation is based on:
- Perceived (in)suitability of a game for the age
- Likelihood of leading to increased purchases - regret of spending money on ‚nothing‘
- General parental angst about the child spending yet more time on a sedentary, solitary activity
Potential lying based on comment from the child:
„That praise for me telling the truth about my plans made me realise that next time it‘s quicker and better for me not to tell/be truthful to my parents what I plan to do.“