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Twitter Debates Whether Dad Paying Son To Read Is A Bad Parenting Tactic

David Woodland is a dad who was pretty surprised when a casual tweet went viral and put a spotlight on his parenting techniques. Woodland didn’t write anything scary or abusive or weird, but as most moms discover much sooner, it’s pretty easy to attract criticism about how you care for your kids when you share that info publicly.

The tweet Woodland sent simply says, “We pay my oldest $1 every time he reads a book. We’re talking 160-page chapter books. I’m out $120 this year and he thinks he’s ripping me off. Best investment ever.”

Not being an armchair child psychologist, I didn’t think there was anything particularly offensive about it. Just a dad tweet which is between Woodland and his son when his son is old enough for a Twitter account.

He added that his son is “a great kid and thrives in academics and sports” and said, “Don’t worry about my kid! He will be okay!”

Is it a good system? Some people seemed to think it was totally brilliant and something Pizza Hut already did:

But there are a whole bunch of people who thought Woodland was teaching his kid to only read when he has external motivation to do so, and as soon as he stops getting money for reading, he’ll stop reading entirely:

There were a few professionals who disagreed with the other professionals on that:

Woodland was interviewed by Bored Panda and he told them he was pretty surprised by the response.

“I don’t think anyone expects to go viral,” he said. “Been tweeting for a decade and I’d say I have had much better tweets that got 5 likes.”

He also wanted everyone to know the payment plan is actually his wife’s idea, so if you think it’s good congratulate her and if you think it’s bad…also her fault. He also said he understood the negative perspective on their system.

“Some think that if you reward some tasks, those tasks become chores that a kid will never be able to enjoy,” said Woodland. “It’s a fair take. In the instance of my son, I don’t worry about his pleasure of reading. He is bright and his vocabulary is exploding. He sometimes shocks me with how smart and insightful he is. He has even mentioned we don’t have to pay him anymore, but we do anyway because it’s just a dollar. He doesn’t get an allowance, so outside of chores, this is possibly the only other way he can earn money on his own as an 8-year-old. He likes to save his money and is proud of the pile of money he has accumulated.”

He also says he’s fine paying his son a dollar per book for the rest of his life if he wants and if that’s all it takes to get him to read. Seems like a fair price.

And for what it’s worth, I agree that for some things, external financial motivation might be a bad idea. In this case, it seems like people are assuming a child won’t discover any other benefits from reading except that dollar bill. Maybe those people should pick up a book for themselves. There’s some great stuff in there you can’t find on Twitter.