Perhaps I’m out of the market for these products, which is why I am not familiar with them, but when this one was shared with my group, I was pretty surprised.
I approved the post for one reason: I wanted to explain in detail why it is not a positive parenting product and should not be used in any family trying to raise their children outside the reward/punishment cycle while encouraging and celebrating children’s pure and intrinsic motivations.
I will not tag or link because this product isn’t “bad,” and the manufacturer isn’t “bad,” they’re just a part of a society that is falling apart, and you don’t want to be a part of this game if you want to parent differently.
Today’s Product: GoodTimer
The Goodtimer is said to encourage children to make the “right decisions” on their own.
What the Product “Supposedly” Does:
- Assists with peaceful morning routines
- Assists with bedtime struggles
- Encourages picky eaters to try new foods
- Encourages children to do their chores
- Helps parents manage screen time
- Encourages children to avoid tantrums
- Assists with sibling rivalry
I must admit, if there were a positive parenting solution to aid me with all these, I’d probably buy it.
But there isn’t.
How the Product Works:
Essentially, parents create an inventory of “good behaviors”; each time a child “chooses” to behave according to the inventory, the Goodtimer will issue a token (between 8-10 a day) that the child can “save up” or use immediately. These tokens amount to edible treats, special time with the parent, movie nights, or little presents.
When the child “chooses” to behave in ways that are not supported, the parent will flip the Goodtimer until the child corrects their ways. The child will then get a token.
What the Product Actually Does:
- Distances the child from their internal HUMAN motivations and shifts them to monetary motivations.
- Shifts the child’s internal gratification system to external. In other words, instead of deriving pleasure and happiness from cooperating with the parent or playing with one’s sibling, the child is now deriving pleasure from a treat.
- Teaches children to avoid their feelings to comply with the “rules” of others.
- Further distances the parent from the disciplinary process as now it’s the Goodtimer that “controls” children’s behavior.
- Discourages the parent from taking active steps in their children’s discipline.
- Discourages the parent from communicating with their children.
- Turns parental love and connection into a reward a child needs to earn and can lose, creating anxious attachment in young children.
Why this Product teaches DANGEROUS Behavioral Habits
Children develop habits; that’s true. But, unfortunately, the habit they develop with the help of the Goodtimer is only one: they get “paid” for “positive” behavior. This might work when they are 3, but what will you do when they’re 16 and getting them to the dinner table will cost you hundreds of dollars?
When we teach children that “emotions = behavior,” and thus – controlled by other people who decide whether it’s “good” or “bad,” we genuinely endanger them. Imagine a situation ten years later when your teen faces a social position where their internal values compete with peer pressure.
In the name of a social token of acceptance, your child might go against their values and feelings and follow their peers instead, as that’s what they were taught to do.
This Product is COMPLETELY Unnecessary When:
- Parents see their children’s behavior as an expression of feelings and devote the time and energy to teach their children healthy coping skills.
- Parents make healthy relationships a TOP priority.
- Parents allow and celebrate the expression of healthy feelings.
- Parents are active players in their children’s daily routines.
- Parents are aware of the age-appropriate challenges their children are facing.
I get it; using the Goodtimer (or any other reward/punishment system) takes far less time and requires less effort, which is why these strategies are so appealing.
We’re all busy, and I’m definitely not perfect. I yell, too. I lose it, too. My children are not 100% happy and on their best behaviors 100% of the time (heck – not even 70%!), but that’s 100% okay – because we are human beings. Being human is being so many things on a wide range of feelings and behaviors; this is how we differ from other mammals.
Want to know how? Follow all the links in this article to create a natural culture of calm in your parenting and family life.
Talk to them.
Express yourselves. Teach them how to express themselves.
Help them find what truly lives within them so that they can really choose the behaviors that meet their needs.
And you know what? Meeting our needs also meets their needs – this is how real, deep, and profound relationships are formed.
When you make your partner their favorite coffee or meal, you do it because you want to make them happy and help them feel loved – this is your gratification.
How will children learn the natural beauty of connection through rewards and punishments? Right; they won’t.
Have other products you’re curious about? Email me at viki at parentsenight dot com, and I’ll share my opinion.
Want to talk further? Join my life and parenting community on Facebook. See you there 🙂