A reward is a result a child receives when he or she behaves well. It is a nice way of saying “well done” or “good job” when your child has behaved in a pleasing way. A reward could be in the form of saying something positive, or giving your child an ice cream or a surprise treat or granting an extra benefit like allowing your child to choose a special meal for lunch or dinner.
When you appreciate your child for his or her good behavior with a reward, your child tends to repeat the good behavior many times over.
Rewards vs. bribe
Some people tend to think that children should be rewarded and bribing are the same. However, parents must always remember that rewards and bribes are not the same at all. Let us look at the difference between a reward and a bribe.
- A reward is given as a result of good behavior
- A bribe is offered before you see the result of a good behavior
Rewards instill good behavior whereas bribes encourage bad behavior. Rewards may work well initially but it is better not to overuse them.
Advantages and disadvantages of rewarding your child for good behavior
It is very difficult to debate if rewarding children’s behavior is good due to varied opinions of people. While there is no right or wrong answer, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that when parents praise and reward their children, the children tend to behave better.
Rewarding a child for good behavior sends out a positive signal in your child’s mind that what they are doing is good and acceptable. Thereby, you encourage your child to behave well in the future too.
Another thought is that those children follow rules better if a reward system is introduced to them. This system is a good way to make your children work harder or better to achieve as many rewards as possible. This practice will, in fact, help them get ready for adulthood as they are aware by then that there are guidelines to follow in life.
However, parents should be careful of over-rewarding their kids. Some experts seem to suggest that excessive rewarding of good behavior can erase a child’s natural quality of helping others. Education guru, Alfie Kohn has a great concern on rewarding children as he concludes that it can make children manipulative and conniving in order to get what they want.
Tips on rewarding your child for good behavior
As parents, you should teach your children the difference between good and bad behavior. The only and best way to teach or educate them is to be a role model in exhibiting good behavior.
Let us look at a few ways to help and encourage good behavior in your children:
- Verbally acknowledge good behavior. Speak about it aloud to your child when you feel good about what your child did.
- Use encouraging words more than criticizing words.
- Look for opportunities to appreciate your children or to bring about a change in them.
- Accept that every child is different and that they come with their unique strengths and abilities. Learn to appreciate the uniqueness of your child.
- Try appreciating your child’s efforts for trying hard in achieving things.
- Reward your child for his or her good behavior. However, be careful not to overdo it otherwise your child may expect you to reward him/her every time they do something good.
As parents offer your children social or material rewards to show your appreciation towards their good behavior. Some methods of rewarding are:
- Shower your child with affection – sometimes all it takes is a nice big hug or a few words of encouragement such as ‘good job’ to make your child happy.
- Take your child out for a special activity or outing –
- Make them their favorite meal or dessert
- Permit your child to play or spend extra time with his/her friends
- Gift them something that they have been asking for a while
- Grant extra time to your child in carrying out his or her hobby
- Grant them extra play time
- Reward your child with a little extra pocket money
Everybody, be it an adult or a child can benefit greatly from being rewarded for a job well done. As parents, how you choose to reward your child is a matter of your personal choice. Please remember that there is no right or wrong way of rewarding. Like every method in parenting, what works for one parent may not work for another parent. So it would be useful to discuss or exchange ideas with other parents and see what works for them in dealing with their children.
But do remember, there must be a proper balance between rewarding and punishing your child to allow them to develop into responsible adults.
Good luck and happy parenting!