Jul 20, 2009

Apple Polishing, Courting Favor

One way of coping with a person who has power to reward or punish is to "get on her good side," to win her over by special efforts to make her like you. Some children adopt this approach with parents and other adults. The formula: "If I can do something ncie for you and get you to favor me, then perhaps you will give me your rewards and withhold your punishment." Children learn early that rewards and punishments are not metered out equitably by adults. Adults can be won over; they can have "favorites." Some children learn how to take advantage of this and resort to behavior know as "buttering someone up," "getting to be teacher's pet," and other terms less acceptable in polite society.

Unfortunately, while children may become quite skillful in winning adults over, this is usually strongly resented by other children; the child who "butters up" people is often ridiculed or rejected by her peers, who suspect her motives and envy her favored position.

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