Are You Different Than Everyone Else?


Everyone once in a while, something happens that really challenges me to sit back and look at the assumptions and beliefs I hold about people. Reading Chip and Dan Heath’s book, “Made to Stick”, provided me one of those moments.

I learned about a research study that was done where people were surveyed to find out which option they would choose if they had to choose between a job that paid well, but was meaningless work and a job that paid reasonably, but was very important, meaningful work.

I was not at all surprised that the study found that the majority of people want to do meaningful work.

What did surprise me was the result of the follow-up question that was asked. Most people felt that the majority of people would choose the well-paying job.

I realized that I see this belief play out every day in my work. We talk about internal motivation, and that meaningful work trumps rewards. But when we are looking at the child that is causing us grief, we say “That kid will never do anything without a reward or consequence.” And we throw out the idea of working with the child, and resort back to our traditional carrots and sticks approach.

Do we really think that our motivations are so different than that of other people’s?


5 thoughts on “Are You Different Than Everyone Else?

  1. Meemie Kemper says:

    Rebecca, how insightful….I am so happy to receive your blog postings and have passed on your site address to many Restitution parents….thank you for posting such meaningful, helpful thoughts. You are helping keep Restitution alive!


  2. Victoria says:

    Dear Rebecca, I have been following your blog for a while now, thanks to Meemie’s referral (who I see has also left a comment here). It was actually Meemie who introduced me to the Restitution Approach in my children’s former school. We have, however, since relocated and my children have started in a new school that firmly stands by the old reward and consequence approach. It’s so disheartening. My 5 year old has a stoplight system in his classroom and has never once moved up. Only down. I fail to understand how this is supposed to help him, let alone motivate him. I’ve tried explaining the Restitution approach to his teacher and even read out one of your posts to her but I’m not sure she appreciates the ‘advice’. I’ve also met with the Elementary Principal to discuss the school’s behaviour management systems and I’m not sure he was that interested in my ideas either! I am reluctant to give up though after seeing how effective the approach was in our last school. Do you have any tips?!


    • Rebecca Gray says:

      Hi Victoria,
      I have been in similar situations, and it is hard when you feel that you are not being heard. When it comes to influencing the behaviour of others, whether child or adult, all we can do at the end of the day is provide information to them – we each get to choose what we are going to do with that information. Even if the school remains at the level of consequences and rewards, that doesn’t mean that your child isn’t going to learn a different way from you. Much of the world functions on that external motivation philosophy – and those of us who understand the power of internal motivation know that we can still choose to think about our values and beliefs and have them guide us in our daily choices. So don’t under-estimate what you can do for your child, even if your approach and the schools are dramatically different.

      Changing the culture of a school is not something that happens easily or overnight. When staff express frustration with the behaviour of the students, grab those opportunities to suggest that perhaps it’s time to try a different approach. Often teachers will look to parents for suggestions of how to motivate their children – so share stories about how Restitution has worked for you and your child in solving problems. School change starts small – often with one person who is interested, and when they experience success, others become interested and it spreads. You might want to pick up a copy of Diane Gossen’s book, “All About We” (available at and provide it to that one person that might take a look at it. For anyone interested in learning about the process of change in implementing Restitution, the book “Creating the Conditions” ( is an awesome resource.

      Don’t give up – together we can change the world!


  3. Victoria says:

    Thanks so much Rebecca, I really appreciate you taking the time to reply. I already have Diane Gossen’s ‘My Child is a Pleasure’ but hadn’t heard of ‘All About We’ or ‘Creating the Conditions’ so will look into getting both. My son’s teacher has also requested support from the school counsellor (it is her first role as a teacher and is finding my ‘freedom’ child very ‘off-task’!) so I will also talk to her (the counsellor) about Restitution in the hope that it may spark some interest…. wish me luck! And sincere thanks again.


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