Incentives can be broken down as simply as the carrot or the stick – and often a well-balanced combination of both.

My kids got their quarterly grades right before Christmas break. My daughter's string of A's and B's earned her $50 and a happy holiday. My son's less-than-acceptable performance delayed his Christmas until March (when the next round of reports cards drop), landed him in his room for the winter vacation and cost him $50.

Each of them got their carrot or stick, but maybe more importantly, they each also saw what the other got, too, tacking on a little added reinforcement.

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