Dad David Woodland started a heated discussion online after he posted that he pays his oldest son to read books. David gives his son 1 dollar for every book read and thinks that it’s a great investment. Meanwhile, his kid believes that he’s ripping his dad off by getting paid to read.
David’s post got a lot of attention online. He got nearly half a million likes on Twitter and made a large splash on Reddit where lots of people reposted his tweet. However, people were divided over whether or not what the dad is doing is right.
Some internet users fully supported David and thought that it’s a good way to get his son to develop positive habits. However, others were much more critical of David’s technique. Let’s see what both sides think, shall we, dear Pandas? Bored Panda also got a hold of David and chatted with him about the parenting tactic that he and his wife use, so be sure to read on!
"I don’t think anyone expects to go viral. Been tweeting for a decade and I’d say I have had much better tweets that got 5 likes. The first thing to clarify is that this system was my wife’s idea. So, shoutout to her and she deserves this much sought after, life-changing internet fame (spoiler: it isn’t life-changing at all)," David told us.
We wanted to get to grips with what David thought about all the criticism that his post received. According to the dad, the 'controversy' was around incentive structures in child development.
"Some think that if you reward some tasks, those tasks become chores that a kid will never be able to enjoy. It’s a fair take. In the instance of my son, I don’t worry about his pleasure of reading. He is bright and his vocabulary is exploding," David explained. "He sometimes shocks me with how smart and insightful he is. He has even mentioned we don’t have to pay him anymore, but we do anyway because it’s just a dollar. He doesn’t get an allowance, so outside of chores, this is possibly the only other way he can earn money on his own as an 8-year-old. He likes to save his money and is proud of the pile of money he has accumulated."
The dad said that he'd be willing to keep paying his son to read forever. "If the rate stays at only $1, I would fund it for life if it kept working! The benefits of reading a book can change people’s life. My favorite tweet that came from the thread was this: 'You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library,'" he said.
"It’s hard to overstate the impact of quality time and energy spent on a child. It can have a lifetime effect with exponential impact," David added. "If anyone is interested in hearing more of my thoughts on being a dad in the Silicon Valley, they can check out this recent podcast episode where I was a guest on the Rad Dad Show."
David’s post rubbed some people the wrong way and they explained why they think he’s doing more harm than good. Some said that the moment you stop paying someone for what they should be doing anyway, they’ll lose motivation.
Others pointed out that the point isn’t to read lots of books as quickly as possible but to really understand each one of them. While some Twitter users hinted that throwing money into the mix gets rid of the joy of learning and pointed out that the kid reading for money sounded a lot like a job.
And in case you were wondering how cheating is prevented, David told the internet that his son gladly shares lots and lots of details about the newest book that he read.
According to the New York Times, a whopping 60 percent of parents admitted to paying their kids to read. However, research tends to show that positive behavior ends when the rewards dry up. “If you pay kids to read you’ll get them to read. They’ll continue to read until you end the experiment, and then they’ll stop,” Edward Deci, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, explained.
In that case, non-material ‘bribes’ might be part of the answer. While in-depth discussions with parents about what the kids read or even starting up a book club might be another part of teaching kids to value reading for reading’s sake.
Would you ever pay your child to read books, dear Pandas? What do you think of David and his wife's parenting tactic? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.