Strip away the layers and really look at your child. What makes them tick? What makes them respond favourably?
Rewards can be offered for good school results, good behaviour or a number of other things. Used effectively, rewards can have a hugely positive impact on your child.
Before exploring the question of using rewards systems, as parents I feel that it is vital to ask why we feel we need to reward in the first place. Secondly, we need to explore various options based on how well we know our child and the effectiveness of said options. Always remember, whether or not to offer rewards is your personal decision.
Very often just being noticed, encouraged, receiving positive words or a simple touch is the only reward a child needs. But how do we get to that stage when we are fighting with our children to get the simplest things done or to get them to understand that they can do it?
Where to start
Firstly, we as parents, need to look at consistency. Secondly, a reward should not become something that children should come to expect or something extra for simply carrying out their daily responsibilities, as this could lead to a false sense of entitlement. This could also, ultimately teach your child to act out to get what they want and thus spell disaster in the long run.
I agree with 1-on-1 coach, Erin Schlicher, who explains: “Pairing James Lehman’s concept of Strategic Recognition and Affection with tangible rewards (the child’s version of the pay cheque) is one of the most effective ways to reinforce appropriate behaviour. This is the use of sincere praise, along with a genuine pat on the back when your child makes progress on something which is difficult for them. Next, add concrete rewards that are a currency that your child values to complete the picture.”
It is a proven fact that rewards can be used as positive reinforcement for modifying negative behaviour. According to Dr Virginia Shiller, a psychologist and instructor at the Yale Child Study Center and co-author of the book “Rewards for Kids”, rewards can help parents teach their children new habits. Shiller says the key is in how the incentives are given, in setting appropriate, realistic goals and in figuring out a strategy to achieve them.
You know what your child likes, but rewards that children select themselves, are usually the most powerful. So, have your child participate in the creation of the list remembering that a variety of options will help keep your child stay motivated over a longer period of time.
Before creating any type of reward system we need to make sure that our child is able to reach their goal in order to be rewarded. Do they understand what is expected of them? Is it age appropriate? Your child’s behaviour can often be linked to the development stage they are moving through. You may need to lend your skills, which may involve problem-solving conversations, role playing or practicing new skills before leaving your child with any responsibilities. These are the times that our parent “hat” changes to that of coach or teacher. We also have to remember that as parents we too are learning, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
How to use a reward system effectively
- Use charts (e.g. star or sticker chart) to track progress towards goals and rewards. WorksheetCloud has a reward system built in that allows your child to collect coins and rewards for doing worksheets. You can use WorksheetCloud to help your child to reach their educational goals.
- Set realistic and specific goals – working on one or two at the same time is better.
- Be part of your child’s journey to reach that goal – encourage, praise and be helpful.
- Make rewards fairly immediate – younger children work more effectively towards a short-term goal, while older children can understand working towards long-term rewards.
We need to remember that a reward system is used to ultimately show a child what they are capable of doing. Once the goal has been achieved their sense of responsibility should kick in. The feelings of achievement and satisfaction should eventually outweigh the need for a physical reward.
Examples of possible types of rewards
Rewards should, with the help of your child, be determined ahead of time. They can be small and don’t need to involve money.
- going to the park
- listening to an extra bedtime story
- going for ice cream
- extra computer or TV time
- staying up later
- taking time off from chores
- choosing a special breakfast, lunch or supper
- planning a day’s activities
How do you reward your child? Comment below and share you story with us.