Rewards for grown-ups can work wonders for the relationship and enhance the sense of goodwill.
“I’m so proud of you for finishing your homework without any prompting this weekend,” I heard my spouse encouraging our nine-year-old in the hope that that would become a norm instead of an aberration. Kids get distracted rather easily, and it’s sometimes a chore to get them to finish off their tasks in a single sitting. A little bit of positive reinforcement in the form of verbal endorsement or a sweet treat, therefore, often goes a long way in increasing the likelihood of a repeat performance. As parents, we’ve all got such neat tricks up our sleeves to keep the wheels of ‘good work’ in motion. In most children, capitalising on the good behaviour would work better than punishing misdeeds – a view that teachers and psychologists will endorse.
But does it work only for kids? Of course, not. It’s as applicable to adults as it is to their mini-versions. It isn’t that, as we grow up, we move beyond the carrot-and-stick ecosystem. Obviously, the carrot needs to be a little ‘sweeter’ than sweet treats and the stick a little stiffer than having to go sit in a corner and think about what we did but, otherwise, it works just the same in principle. Be it a spouse, a co-worker, an employee or a friend, rewards for grown-ups can work wonders for the relationship and enhance the sense of goodwill. It’s a pity, though, that rewarding good behaviour doesn’t happen often enough. Corporates, at least some, encourage their staff to do so on a regular basis but, by and large, it is not a practice that is followed as much as it should be. Some households, not enough though, do follow such a practice. And certain communities follow it, too. But it almost never happens at a national level.
I say ‘almost never’ because it just happened in the UAE. Yes, at a national level. Last week in Dubai, Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, unveiled the National Behavioural Rewards Programme, a strategy aimed at encouraging positive behaviour among UAE residents through a points-based rewards system, when such points can be used for paying for government services.
Now that’s a brilliant illustration of positive reinforcement, with the strategy aiming “to empower the entire community and encourage them to adopt positive behaviours, support families, promote community interaction, and bolster the economy, as well as achieve the country’s comprehensive development”. With more than 90 behaviours shortlisted for the rewards points, the strategy will be guided by five themes or pillars: individual empowerment, family support, community interaction, economic growth, and love for the country.
It’s a uniquely imaginative initiative, exactly what the world’s first virtual ministry was created for. It may sound surreal, but the UAE’s Ministry of Possibilities has been formulated to address the government’s most critical challenges through radical solutions. Launched in April this year, the Ministry intends to tackle “impossible challenges effectively through new innovative models and working methods aiming to improve people’s quality of life”. The UAE’s wise leadership has never shied away from defying convention for the betterment of the citizens and residents. With this country-wide drive for rewarding good behaviour, it has proven yet again that it is a poster child for ensuring a brighter future for the generations to come.
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