The right way to reward your children
Children are creatures of habit. When you have the right reward system in place, it is possible to use positive reinforcement to your advantage and shape their behavior over time.
However, there is a lot of bad practice out there. This means a lot of parents have to deal with unnecessary tantrums as well as behavioral issues because of the mistakes they make when rewarding their children’s behavior.
If this is something that hits close to home, this article is going to show you the right tactics that you should employ to reward your children. The most important thing to remember here is to customize your reward system to your child’s age. The behavioral milestones your child has hit at his/her age will help you figure out how to reward them. Toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children will all require different approaches.
Child reward system ideas for toddlers and preschoolers
1. Use a reward chart
Reward charts can come in many forms. As long as they allow you to track your child’s behavior as they follow along with you, it should work. Sticker reward charts are quite popular, but you can use marbles in a jar, an app on your phone, or even a point tally on your fridge.
For this example, let’s explore how a sticker reward chart can reinforce positive behavior in your child. All you have to do is place a sticker on the chart every time your little one accomplishes a predetermined goal. Make the stickers have even more value by letting them be worth something after a particular point. For example, 10 stickers can be redeemed for a toy or storybook.
2. Work on a single behavior at a time
For toddlers and preschoolers, you want to take it easy at first with the number of behaviors you are creating the reward system for. Pick something that your child is struggling with, like using the toilet on their own, then track it until it is not a problem anymore before moving on to the next one.
3. Be generous with your praise
Children at this age love pleasing their parents. When you give them plenty of praise for accomplishing their goals, they’ll be more motivated to do it again. Over time, the new behavior will become part of them.
4. Keep it simple
Do not overcomplicate things when starting out. Explain the reward system to them in simple, easy-to-understand words so they have a clear picture of what they need to do and what they’ll get out of it. Also, make sure that the thing you are rewarding them for is simple, clear, and not open to interpretation. Instead of rewarding them for “being nice”, reward them for “saying please and thank you.”
Child reward system ideas for school-aged children
1. Start tracking multiple behaviors
Reward systems for kids at this age can include more than one behavior. You can use the reward chart to track multiple behaviors at the same time. For example, your child can earn points for completing certain chores and also for behaving appropriately.
2. Make the system more complex
By this time, your child has a clear idea of what the reward system is and what is expected of them. You can start using a point system to motivate them, where they can trade a certain number of points for something they actually want. For example, 10 points can be traded for some money to spend on whatever they want, more time playing video games, or a later bedtime.
3. Add a time-variant to the system
If you do not want your child to grow into a procrastinator, adding a time element to the reward system will add an element of urgency to certain tasks, making them more likely to complete them on time. For example, you can decide that your child has to make their bed before 9 or 10 am every morning or else they get no points.
4. Create the reward system with your child
Let your child pick the activities that they’d like to include. They should also pick rewards that will motivate them. Maybe they want a particular toy more than a new book, or a new bike more than new toys. Talking to them is the only way to tailor the system to their unique personality and needs.
When you reward your children in the right way, you encourage good behavior through positive reinforcement. With the tips outlined here, this should no longer be hard to achieve. Good luck!