December 22, 2011 3:56 am at 3:56 am #601243
I have a question about a boy whose family I know very well and I was wondering your opinion on the situation:
This boy is ten and a half and he used to hate to go to shul. He didn’t start going until he was nine, when his dad offered him a point system that every day he’d go to shul he would get a point toward a day off from school, and after about 20 points he would get a day off from school and a mini-trip with his mom.
Now he goes to shul regularly.
Is this an issue? Should a nine-year old be expected to go to shul without bribery, or is this reasonable? At what age can a boy be expected to go to shul on his own willingly? He is being weaned off the system, and there’s an agreement that he will be off it when he’s eleven. I merely ask because I’m curious as to your opinions on “shul age” and this system for getting a kid to go to shul.
(This boy is unusually mature and he understood from the first that this wouldn’t be forever. I think it went well for him; I am curious about any random kid.)December 22, 2011 4:16 am at 4:16 am #837545
That parent is giving a terrible chinuch bribing the kids to do one responsibility and his reward is he gets to ignore another responsibility and miss school? wrong wrong wrongDecember 22, 2011 4:16 am at 4:16 am #837546
Is this an issue? Should a nine-year old be expected to go to shul without bribery, or is this reasonable?
I don’t understand the question?
Are you asking if this is the best way to be mechanech the kid? Because it doesn’t sound like it- it sounds like you are asking if it is normal, and if it isn’t, then you think they should just humiliate the kid into going by berating him until he agrees to go. (Or hitting him, or taking away privileges.)
And why are you asking about someone elses kid? It’s not of your business. Just stick your nose back inside your own siddur.December 22, 2011 4:43 am at 4:43 am #837547
I believe the responsibility on this falls at the feet of the father. For whatever reason he didn’t take his son to shul at an earlier age. Once a child learns to daven in school he should go to shul with his father and daven in shul. Of course every child is different and not every child can be expected to sit through the entire shabbos shul experience. Every father needs to judge for themselves how to work that out. In this case the father started taking his son to shul at 9 and had to bribe him to come. This worked for both of them and they also understood the ground rules and where it would end.
They had an agreement in place and it worked for them. There is nothing wrong as long as they both understood how it was going to work and how and when it was going to end. I don’t recommend this as the best way to go about this, but in this case since it worked, it worked. On the other hand, the boy could have negated his end of the bargain at the end of the year and pushed for more bribery. Bribery is NOT a good idea in any situation. A reward and consequence system is always a good way to teach responsibility but not when it is used to manipulate one and other. Rules should be very clear cut and should be in place in advance.
In this case I believe that the father started too late with his son and he should have made it clear that it was the son’s responsibility to go to shul at this age. If he did not require him to go to shul at 7 or 8, he should have been training him at that age, that when he reaches the age of 9, he will then be a big boy and he will be responsible to go to shul with Tatty like a big boy. Making it the son’s responsibility would then put him in a position that he is required to do this, that siblings younger than him are NOT, or may not even be allowed to do this, and this is a coming of age thing and something to be proud of like riding a bike, crossing the street, etc. However, with that privilege comes the responsibility and commitment. That means there is a consequence if you don’t follow through and do what you are supposed to do. This is the total opposite of being bribed.
It is the son’s responsibility to go to shul to daven. This is an important part of growing up and if it is important to both parent and child then parents have to show the importance. If it is NOT then the child should NOT be bribed to do it either. That is NOT good chinuch and that bribe was a little too manipulative. What does davening in shul have to do with having a day off from school? Why would he or should he deserve a day off from school for doing what he is supposed to do? Why not offer him a Hot chocolate, doughnut, bagel, a ride to school after davening or extra time with Tatty each time he goes to shul with Tatty. Not all yeshivas want kids to go to shul with their fathers and would rather have the boys daven together in school. It all depends on what the yeshiva wants. But if the rule is to go to shul, then a child has to be taught and trained to go because it is their responsibility and it is the right thing to do.December 22, 2011 5:13 am at 5:13 am #837548
I didn’t hear anything about a bribe, it sounded like a reward or incentive. There are so many boys struggling through davening because of many different reasons and to keep a boy home til he is ten, if he is not ready to go earlier, is perfectly fine according to many parents and educators. If it is hard for him, and you said he used to hate shul, which already indicates something’s up, offering rewards helps the boy understand that you are validating his difficulty and you are giving him something tangible to work for until he gets used to it. For kids who need it, this is a good plan. I am sure many will not agree, but since we don’t know the boy, it is hard to judge. For a ‘run of the mill’ kid I would never offer such a plan.December 22, 2011 3:13 pm at 3:13 pm #837549
My only reaction is the idea that each child should be raised according to their way, etc., and parents have the ultimate role in deciding what is fit. This is working to condition the child in a positive way.
Tangible rewards are a valid step in modifying behavior.
In the adult work, say, in sales, etc., people motivated to earn higher commissions can do so in and up and up way, and in that case, they are never weaned off of that system, as eventually, I am guessing, the point system will not always be employed for this boy.December 22, 2011 3:40 pm at 3:40 pm #837550
Children need a certain amount of “bribery” to get them to do mitzvos and enjoy them. If that’s part of this child’s chinuch and it achieves its goal I’d have no problem with it.December 22, 2011 3:47 pm at 3:47 pm #837551
The fact that it was an obvious bribe and not a reward such as going to breakfast with Tatty or a consequence losing a privilege if he didn’t go was the point the parent missed here. Rewarding a child with missing a day of school was off the mark.December 22, 2011 4:06 pm at 4:06 pm #837552
I personally think there is no greater reward than missing a day of school and spending it with your parent. But that is for a very different discussion. And I am not alone in this.December 22, 2011 4:25 pm at 4:25 pm #837553
why bother wasting your time poking your nose into other people’s lives? im sure you do things that they would find odd…just get a life (yep. i said that on the internet.)December 22, 2011 4:28 pm at 4:28 pm #837554
Eventually though, this “bribery” results in the boy getting into the habit of going to shul w/o worrying about points/rewards.
Would you offer your kid a day off from school at age 10 as a tradeoff for him going to shul at age 20?
Most normal people would say yesDecember 22, 2011 4:31 pm at 4:31 pm #837555
There are several items up in the air here the way I see it.
. At what age is it appropriate to “force” a boy to go to shul
. What is appropriate incentive to get a boy to go to shul before the age of forcing him
. Is missing school an appropriate incentive
I think the answers appropriate for my own sons are:
. Nothing if he will be miserable while there
. Not for attendance in shul
Every boy is different and each situation should be treated for the unique case that it is.December 22, 2011 4:32 pm at 4:32 pm #837556
I have this issue with my 9 yr old son. He does not like to go shul. If he does go then he will daven quickly and then sit and read a jewish book.
He has no interest to go to shul!
My husband says not to force the issue and the rabanim would agree with him. But he is getting closer to his bar mitzva-then what?
WWYD?December 22, 2011 4:36 pm at 4:36 pm #837557
I have this issue with my 9 yr old son. He does not like to go shul….But he is getting closer to his bar mitzva
He is as close to bar mitzva as he is to being 5 years old. 4 years either way.December 22, 2011 4:39 pm at 4:39 pm #837558
Could anyone care to explain / elaborate the difference between bribery and rewarding?
ThanksDecember 22, 2011 4:44 pm at 4:44 pm #837559
Why should 9 year olds going to shul with their fathers instead of davening in school. Is this itself the problem?December 22, 2011 5:01 pm at 5:01 pm #837560
Dont EVER force people kids to go to Shul, they will hate it and usually find out ways to avoid it when they are old enough to do so.
Why do you think there is a candy man in shul and not a Malkos man in shulDecember 22, 2011 5:17 pm at 5:17 pm #837561
apushatayid – Although I don’t object to the missing school part I agree with you completely. Thanks for wording it so well. (I actually give my kids one free day off during any month that has no breaks in it as a reward for their existance)December 22, 2011 5:22 pm at 5:22 pm #837562
zahavasdad- +1. I completely agree.December 22, 2011 5:23 pm at 5:23 pm #837563
Bribery is usually given before the fact and a reward is usually given after the fact. Since the boy earns points and collects after reaching twenty, he is clearly being rewarded, not bribed.
As far as tweens going to shul, there are plenty of 10, 11 and 12 year old kids who go to shul on Shabbos with their fathers and spend there time out in the hall playing games. These kids need to learn to sit with their fathers and daven, not just go to shul.December 22, 2011 7:23 pm at 7:23 pm #837564
Thanks, Dr. Kaufman.December 22, 2011 7:34 pm at 7:34 pm #837565
<em As far as tweens going to shul, there are plenty of 10, 11 and 12 year old kids who go to shul on Shabbos with their fathers and spend there time out in the hall playing games. These kids need to learn to sit with their fathers and daven, not just go to shul.
So What I see plenty of Men 20’s,30’s,40’s,50’s who go to shul on Shabbos and talk to everyone about everything except davening and they talk to them IN SHUL
At least the kids go outsideDecember 22, 2011 7:42 pm at 7:42 pm #837566
I know quite a few 9,10,11 year old boys who do not want to go to shul, its totally normal- what exactly is there in shul thats so attractive for a little boy who would rather be playing and having fun?
Rewarding and bribing is basically the same thing, and its sometimes the only way to get boys to go to shul.
I think its the same kind of thing as licking honey off the aleph beis when they go to nursery for the first time- it just an incentive and theyll get used to it.December 22, 2011 7:44 pm at 7:44 pm #837567
One thing I’d like to point out.
If a child indeed goes to Shul, and sees his father davening insincerely, shmoozing, laughing, he will pick up on it NO MATTER WHAT. No amount of bribes, rewards or punishments can undo the detrimental chinuch a parent exudes. At least when their children are around, fathers should put on a show of utmost respect for HaSHem’s House, utmost sincerity and concentration in the Tefillah.
That’s just my humble view.December 22, 2011 8:07 pm at 8:07 pm #837568
OK this is off topicm but what does (name) +1 mean? I have seen it a number of times, but don’t know this expression.December 22, 2011 8:12 pm at 8:12 pm #837569
Its like “hey Rush, ditto”.December 22, 2011 8:22 pm at 8:22 pm #837570
oomis – it’s goyishe shprach that has made its way into our community! 🙂
(as far as I know it is used on facebook to mean ‘I agree’)December 22, 2011 8:26 pm at 8:26 pm #837571
Excellent question about bribe versus reward. I will take a stab at this and say that a bribe is an incentive to get someone to do something wrong, whereas a reward is an incentive to do something which is right.December 22, 2011 8:49 pm at 8:49 pm #837572
I don’t think bribing, or rewarding, or forcing, is going to work, at any age.
Find me someone who says he used to not like going to shul, but then his father forced, bribed, rewarded, berated, whatevered, him into going for however long, at whatever age- and now he likes going.December 22, 2011 9:02 pm at 9:02 pm #837573
“(as far as I know it is used on facebook to mean ‘I agree’)”
that made me want to punch a puppy in the spleen…ITS FROM GOOGLE +December 22, 2011 9:32 pm at 9:32 pm #837574
apologize to the puppy from me – I stand corrected (don’t get the difference tho)December 22, 2011 9:36 pm at 9:36 pm #837575
I dont want to use the word bribe, since it has a negative connotation.
I prefer to use the words reward and incentive.
Dont you think that each year that we, IyH, try to grow it yiddishkeit, that it may include changing our ways and in all cases it is not because we like those changes?
But since we impose upon ourselves the idea of heavenly reward, we stick with it, and, eventually, learn to not only like it, but love it.
Based on this, I think what is going on with the child is a good precedent for what the child should do for himself (in terms of the rewards and consequences) as he grows older and better in Torah and mitzvos.
Dare I say Hashem employs a similar school of thought to get us to do the right thing?December 22, 2011 9:46 pm at 9:46 pm #837576
BTguy: That’s a good question. And I’m not sure I can answer it.
I’ll add some more to the question. Hashem also threatens us with eternal damnation. So maybe you should threaten to burn your kids fingers if he doesn’t go to shul?
Now, I think most of you will agree that will be counterproductive. So what is the answer?
I need to think about it. And I might not have anything.
All I do know, is what works and what doesn’t. And role modeling works- punishment and rewards don’t. And that is just how it is.
Punishment and rewards are only good for short term effects. And sometimes you only want short term effects. So if you just don’t want your kid to run in the street, a punishment will probably work (as long as you can always monitor them, and always increase the punishment- and still would probably be a bad idea overall).
But if you want to influence your kid? If you want them to change who they are? Role modeling. Change who you are.December 22, 2011 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm #837577
There is a big difference between a bribe and an incentive. An incentive is offered before the action is done while a bribe is offered after the child does something wrong.
For example, if you want to take your kid to the grocery store, if before you go yo tell your child “If you are good you will get a prize when we get home” that is an incentive. A bribe is when the child starts screaming in the store because he wants candy and you tell him that is he stops you will give him a prize.
An incentive is effective for behavior modification. A bribe only shows the child that by screaming or doing something wrong, he gets what he wants.
In the case brought up by the OP, I’d say it is a bribe because it was only offered after he refused to go to shul. Also, the skipping school part is not so good.December 23, 2011 1:18 am at 1:18 am #837578
Just to clarify:
1) This boy is very mature. He understood from the first that this was temporary.
2) They live in an OOT community where the nearest shul is pretty far from their home and there are few children who go to shul. He really needed incentive to go, or he wouldn’t have in the first place. The father merely didn’t want to have him walk 4+ miles each Shabbos both ways before he was able to handle it, which is why he started this late. The family will be moving within a year, to a place with a closer shul, so this will soon become a moot point b”h.
3) The reward is really that 20 points means a day off of school, another 20 points means, say, bowling THAT DAY, another 20 points means pizza, etc. As such he has only had 2 of these days, which fall more into the category of “mental health days”.
4) I’m not butting in to someone else’s business. This family is very close to me, though not actually related.
The question was really the age at which a boy should go to shul and whether bribery/incentive is a bad way to get him to go.
Thanks!December 23, 2011 1:59 am at 1:59 am #837579
This thread is highly disturbing.
The focus is whether we should be blaming the kid.
That is retarded; the focus should be on what is in the best interests of the kid.
Plus, the whole thread is busybodying. You should not be involved in this, even if you are close to his family. If you can’t help yourself, you should stop going to shul yourself so you don’t notice.December 23, 2011 2:45 am at 2:45 am #837580
I assume you are just being argumentative but I’ll fall for it. Nobody is busybodying, nobody was looking for ways to reprimand the family or get involved in any way at all. Someone saw something, wondered about it, and asked others what they thought of the concept. That hardly warrants such criticism.December 23, 2011 2:48 am at 2:48 am #837581
No, I’m being serious. But I probably wouldn’t have gotten worked up, except that the whole focus of the question was also crazy.December 23, 2011 3:16 am at 3:16 am #837582
The kid is 9 years old! Who would want to sit in shul for 3 hours at that age?? I know I didn’t! Let him run around with his friends and play outside. If you want him to daven shema and shmoneh esrai, fine.. but to make him stay in shul without a bribe is torture!!December 23, 2011 3:57 am at 3:57 am #837583
See Mishna Brura 98:3 who qoutes the Shla Hakodesh.December 23, 2011 4:30 am at 4:30 am #837584
in my opinion a boy should start going to shul on shabbos when he is 8 years old for at least part of the davening.
If someone can bring him to shul for the last half hour in the beginning and eventually by the time he is 11 and half you work him up to staying the whole 2 hours for shabbos davening.
If their is a shabbos drasha never except him to stay in for that until he is over 13 and even then it may be best let him go outside.December 23, 2011 2:07 pm at 2:07 pm #837585
I find this thread interesting because I have kids and would like to know how to motivate them.
IMO, shul can be very boring for children. Chinch is important, and we want o expose them to what shul is, the structure and beauty of Shabbos davening….. But, IMO, if it’s not a shul that sings a lot, like a carlebach minyan, most kids would find it very boring…..
I personally don’t see anything wrong with what the parent did. Perhaps it’s because it worked, and if it didn’t we’d be having a very different discussion…
Children are very concrete: “put your money where your mouth is”…
The reward for shul is great. Oh, yeah? But, I have to wait 120 years to get it. To a kid, that’s a millennium. I get Aries point f view that skipping school may not be the best chinuch. I liked how R. Kaufman differentiated between reward and bribe. With even further elaboration from the OP, the fact that the reward is switched periodically (not to sacrifice learning) is even more convincing to me.
I really can’t imagine having a child walk 4+ miles to and from shul. Who can blame the child for not wanting to go?
So, I think rewards/bribes are ok, I agree that missing school isn’t great, but considering that it’s only occasional, don’t think it’s so terrible.
What do you do if you want to teach your child at a younger age to sit on shul and follow the davening, but they become disruptive and it bothers the other people davening. How do you handle that? How do you get your kids from a place of bringing them to shul to getting them to sit quietly in shul? I would love to hear how you’ve managed to transition them…December 23, 2011 4:14 pm at 4:14 pm #837586
You said: “I’ll add some more to the question. Hashem also threatens us with eternal damnation. So maybe you should threaten to burn your kids fingers if he doesn’t go to shul?”
Are you serious about bringing that statement to the discussion table? That is even outside the scope of an overgeneralization and exaggeration.
Hashem DOES have the idea of the threat of eternal damnation on the table, and you buy into that, I am sure. Can I assume you also agree with chas v’shalom burning a kids fingers if he doesnt go to shul? Of course not.
Where were you going with that?? lol
The fact is, reward/incentives are built into the fabric of the human condition.
Whether it is a child who earns prizes or whatever for going to shul, or an adult to davens with more kavana with the hope their prayers will be better answered, or avoids eating bread on Pesach out of fear of the consequences, or someone raising their level of observance and finding it difficult at first, but sticking with it until it becomes natural to where they would never want to give it up, because they want, in part, the inherent benefits in Olam Hazeh, and Olam Habah, incentive/reward works, and is a good thing to shape behavior.
I applaud the parent for doing what they are doing, and thank them, too, as we all benefit from them taking a hands on approach to getting their child to do the right thing.
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