Ever wonder how employers get their workers to perform with excellence? Most organizations (86%) actually have a reward and/or recognition program in place. Incentives/rewarding are part of a $100+ billion industry, $46 billion of which is non-cash incentives. It’s a proven strategy that works for employers, so why do you refuse to implement a reward system at home? Incentives, rewarding… it’s all the same thing and it is a great strategy to help your kids improve their behaviour.
Get past any false ideas that you may have and discover how beneficial rewarding your children can be.
“They just need to learn how to do things… life isn’t always about rewards”
Wrong! Providing rewards is simply motivation for something positive to happen. Everything in life is about motivation. We are motivated to perform a task or engage in an activity for 2 reasons A) It makes us feel a sense of accomplishment and/or pleasure B) We know we can earn or avoid something as a result. If you are honest with yourself, there are many things you do because of the rewards that follow. For instance, working over time so you can make enough money to go on vacation. Would you be happy working for a boss who had an attitude of “you just need to learn to do your work,” without ever recognizing your hard work? Depending on your child’s developmental age, abilities, personality, and temperament the feeling of pleasure and accomplishment may not be enough of a motivator to get them to perform a particular task. They may need a little more encouragement as well as have access to rewards in order to do the things they do not know how to do or dislike doing. What would it take for you to engage in an activity you absolutely hate or do not know how to do?
“I shouldn’t have to hand out and dangle treats in front of my child in order to get them to stop doing something”.
I agree you shouldn’t. As a matter of fact, that is called bribing and I do not encourage one to engage in this. Bribing is when you are begging your child to do something for you, you try to sweeten the deal by giving them something they really like. In bribing, you provide your child with a motivating object before they do what you have asked. For example you give your child ice cream first to persuade them to stop crying. Bribing is beneficial to you but offers no value to your child. When rewarding your child the reward comes after the desired behaviour has been achieved. It is typically planned not offered in the heat of the moment. It is used to encourage positive behaviours and add incentive to completed tasks and activities.
“It’s too costly and I just don’t have the time”
Your children’s reward for doing a good job doesn’t have to cost you any money. Rewards are anything that can be used to encourage and motivate positive behaviour. The following are common types of rewards:
Social: These are rewards where you give praise and expressions of approval. For example: “that was awesome” “Great Job” as well as high fives and clapping
Activity: Activity related rewards is when you allow your child to participate in their favourite activity. This could be something they enjoy doing alone or with someone else.
For example: recreational time on a tablet, or going to the movies, fishing trip, etc.
Tangible: Tangible rewards include: treats, toys, balloons, stickers, points and favourite meals
Each child is different in their preferences for things that might be potential motivators. It’s important to find and use a few things from each category and constantly switch things up. This should not be too time-consuming. Plan ahead of time what reward your child will receive after performing a task. Create a rewards box that is filled with little items or activity cards.
“They will become spoiled and materialistic as they grow older… they will always expect it and won’t do anything without it.”
Bribing is likely to produce spoiled children. Rewarding allows children to realize that working hard and completing something pays off. Let’s go back to what I mentioned in my introduction about organizations having reward/recognition programs. Does this make the employee spoiled or become materialistic? Of course not! It encourages them to work harder and allows them to feel really good about what they have done. When your child has picked up their toys without being told, was kind and shared her favourite snack with her sibling or completed her homework, why not recognize the achievement. Celebrate, it’s a big deal!!! Rewarding them will encourage that behavior to occur more often. As I previously mentioned, rewards can come in various forms. It could be praise, spending quality time, engaging in a special activity or gifts. You could never give too much praise to your child, can you? Would you continuously work hard at something without any type of reward? Studies have shown that rewarding individuals can change their mindset. It allows them to feel successful and happy. Their motivation to complete a task for tangible rewards shifts to now completing tasks because it brings pleasure and gives them a sense of accomplishment
“It doesn’t end up being fair to my other kids and creates sibling rivalry”
To prevent siblings from fighting, all your children should be given some kind of reward. Keep in mind all children are different so what you give to one child may not work as a reward to the other. Therefore, I am a strong believer that not all children should be treated equally. Each child has different needs that should be addressed in different ways. For instance, if you have a child with Autism you may need to reward them more frequently with tangible items in comparison to their siblings. Look at it like this, if one child needed glasses would you buy glasses for all of your children? That would be silly, right? When introducing a reward system, clearly explain to all your children what things they need to accomplish in order to be rewarded. Be sure to keep your word and provide them with what they have earned.
It is not effective and does not work for my child
There is scientific proof that states rewarding children is enormous so I can guarantee the theory works. However, you may need to fine-tune the method to suit your child. Follow these steps:
- When rewarding your child, start with 1 or 2 behaviours you want to encourage and see more of. Make sure this behaviour is something they can learn and realistically achieve
- Have your child pick a few things they want to work towards getting (download free PDF What motivates me to explore options)
- In the beginning, reward this behaviour every time it occurs. The reward should be given immediately after the behaviour has occurred. Once good behaviour happens more frequently, lessen how often you reward them. For example: when you complete your homework 3 days in a row, you will get your reward. This can then be extended to 5 days in a row etc.
The overall goal is to move constant tangible rewards to more natural ones. This means once they complete the new skill or task they will no longer need a tangible reward because the performing of the task/activity will now be naturally rewarding. As a result, your child will see the benefits of what they are doing and feel good about themselves for doing it.
Not sure what your child finds motivating? Complete this “what motivates my child” checklist so you can be on our way to a well-behaved child that actually does what you ask them to do.
Want to discuss more strategies on how to mortivate your child or more practical parenting tips and how to raise Responsible Independent, Confident, Happy kids? Hang out with me and other parents who are facing the same challenges as you in my private facebook community.
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