Conditional love is finally getting the press it deserves – and it is all bad! Sorry Dr. Phil and Supernanny, many of us do not believe that what children need or want (specifically approval or love) should be offered contingently or doled out as rewards or withheld until they behave according to our wishes. Praising children for doing something right or punishing if they do something wrong – are both conditional and counterproductive.
Research completed in 2004 (Assor & Roth) with adults and recently replicated with ninth graders (Deci) suggests that children who received conditional approval were in fact more likely to do what a parent wanted, but as adults, the children tend to not like their parents much, feel internal pressure to do things versus a sense of choice or control, and they often felt guilty or ashamed of their behavior. In addition, children who reported feeling more loved when they lived up to their parents’ expectations feel less worthy as adults. Read more »