Offering a reward to your child for good behavior can be a powerful motivator. The reward signals your appreciation and validates your child’s achievement. Of course, there is debate around whether or not it’s best to reward your child for a job well done, questioning whether or not a child will strive to achieve without a reward. But offering rewards is just one way to provide your child with positive feedback, admiration and recognition — all of which are necessary to help your child develop a healthy sense of self-esteem.
Step 1: Set expectations
Clearly explain the desired behavior you would like to see demonstrated. For example, you could ask your child to make the bed before snack time, or you could ask that she plays quietly for 20 minutes while you prepare dinner. The expectations you set should be reasonable and reachable. Ultimately, you want to set your kids for success without making things too easy, in order for them to feel a sense of achievement.
Step 2: Choose a reasonable reward that your child values
Of course, every reward cannot be a day at the zoo or a special trip to get an ice cream sundae. That is why it is important to offer rewards that can be fulfilled on a daily basis. For example, offer an extra bedtime story or even delayed bedtime as possible rewards. Older children who are beginning to learn the value of money will appreciate small monetary rewards. Other reasonable rewards could be a favorite snack before bed or a favorite dish for dinner.
Step 3: Keep it simple
Whatever task-reward combination you choose, try and keep it simple and balanced. A sizable reward for a small task may set unrealistic expectations in the future, which may lead to more trouble than benefit. Rewards should be deliverable throughout the day, so it’s helpful to avoid getting into the habit of trying to top each one with something bigger and better. This may also help your kids learn to appreciate the little things in life.
Step 4: Keep up your end of the bargain
Hold up your end of the bargain with your child and deliver the agreed upon reward as promised. Make sure it’s done in a timely manner to create a strong bond between good behavior and benefit. On the other hand, if your child does not deliver on his end of the deal, it’s important to stand firm in not giving the reward anyway. There may be disappointment, but stay strong. You’re teaching the importance of follow-through and the meaning of commitment.
Step 5: Keep it consistent
When it comes to building your kids up and reinforcing positive behavior, consistency is key. Be diligent in offering your children positive reinforcement and reasonable rewards on a daily basis. Try to maintain a balance throughout each day between the extrinsic and intrinsic tasks, determining what should be its own reward and what warrants a little something extra.
For more ways to reward your kids, check out:
5 Non-monetary rewards for good grades