Why we stopped spanking children

But if kids are unmonitored most of the time, then I wonder how well that works. It strikes me as plausible that a world in which kids spend more time unsupervised requires a parenting style more reliant on swift punishment for detected wrongdoing than rewards for good behavior.

To be sure, my mother was actually quite well watched–by all the other mothers on the block. But while you could be quite sure that an adult would report it if they saw your kid doing something really wrong, it’s much less likely that they’re going to tell you that Sally deserves her tidyness gold star for the afternoon because she threw her litter in the garbage can.

All that monitoring and incentivizing probably is better at turning out kids who are able to successfully negotiate the hierarchical American university system. But crotchety as I am, I find it sort of creepy–and anecdotally, as the first generation of what David Brooks calls “Organization Kids” enters the workforce, employers are apparently complaining that they have an outsized sense of entitlement combined with a difficulty coping with unstructured tasks. Obviously, I’m not advocating a return to an era of brutal beatings. But I’d like to think that there’s some alternative to raising children in a sort of well-padded, benevolent police state where no action is too small or large that it can’t be managed with an appropriately placed gold star.