Reading an entry by aaronsw today led me to find out about Alfie Kohn, who argues that competition does not work: both punishment and praise are counterproductive when raising children, and incentive systems don't work in the workplace either. At first it sounds strange to suggest that praising children could be a bad idea. But his argument (take a look) seems pretty convincing to me: if your child grows up expecting a reward every time he or she does something right, that creates a dependence on external approval instead of self-motivation. Instead of praising, Kohn suggests, observe: "Look at Abigail’s face! She seems pretty happy now that you gave her some of your snack."
Aaron's journal entry also talks about teaching children to lie about their emotions ("Say you're sorry."). I don't know whether this is a good or a bad thing. I mean, it sounds bad, and i often wish i never had to hide my emotions, but it seems to be a necessary thing sometimes, in the name of diplomacy.