So, your kids have finished their chores, completed their homework and behaved well at a friend’s party. (Ok, so a mom can dream can’t she?!) They deserve a reward … maybe stickers, ice cream or more screen time… am I right?
Ok, let’s face it mom and dad, bribery can be very effective when it comes to a two year old and potty training or getting your teen to go the extra mile before exams. Convincing your kids to do things they don’t want to can be a challenge. Providing incentives can be a sure-fire way to get kids to comply, but the price may keep going up! Oh yeah, we’ve all been there.
Shouldn’t good behaviour be its own reward? When they’re eating their veggies, they’re getting her nutrients to stay healthy and strong … mmm, a bit lofty for a three year old, don’t you think?
There’s a fine line that parents need to walk. Rewards can be wonderful when not used manipulatively. Rewards should not be guaranteed every time your child does something you like. Truth is, once your child gets wise to your strategy, they might resist cooperating until they’re sure they’ll receive a reward; they’re so good at this! So, make sure not to reward every achievement; you don’t want your child to expect a reward, just to appreciate one.
According to Dr Virginia Shiller, psychologist and co-author of the book Rewards for Kids, rewards can help parents teach their children new habits and should not purely be used as a behavioural modification but as a learning opportunity.
So, do offer prizes and surprises sometimes! Perhaps you want to mix things up a bit by adding to your “arsenal of rewards.” Here are a few ideas:
Reward possibilities for pre-schoolers are endless. Let them stay up for 5 or 10 minutes after bedtime. Having the “big kid” card when other siblings are sent off to bed is priceless. Also bubbles – allow a little bubble blowing inside or take the fun outside. An extra bedtime story or spending the night with grandparents could be fun. Going out for ice-cream, finger painting, an activity book or allowing them to watch their favourite show for a little longer than usual, is a great reward.
Taking time off from chores could be a big deal for primary school kids. Being “captain for the day” could be a great “kidcentive.” Getting to choose a meal or a desert as captain is a great privilege. What about lunch alone with mom or dad? Extra screen-time, not exceeding 2 hours, will definitely be a favourite. A sleepover, going to the movies or the zoo is fun. Get adventurous; go ice skating or zip lining. Give them your time; grab a Frisbee or your bikes and enjoy the outdoors.
Teens could earn dating privileges, or maybe have friends for a sleep over. Car privileges or getting to stay out later than curfews are very popular. Throwing a party at the end of the year should be incentive enough to hit the books. Also, money … with a twist. Encourage your teenager to donate a part of her monetary reward to a charity of their choice. Earning extra screen time after completing chores will be a hit, for sure! Airtime or concert tickets to her favourite band could be great rewards.
Make sure rewards don’t become a substitute for words of praise and encouragement; rewards are most meaningful when given along with positive words and touch from a loving parent.
Source: stayathomemoms.about.com, narrowbackslacker.com, childdevelopmentinfo.com, www.pbs.org, www.verywell.com, www.cdc.gov, www.momswhothink.com, childdevelopmentinfo.com, www.supernanny.co.uk, www.naturalchild.org, www.eydcp.com, www.whattoexpect.com, www.k5learning.com, www.kathyeugster.com, www.rightathome.com