Rewards are one of those things we all love and look forward to. Rewards go a long way in motivating and inspiring us. It’s something we look forward to – that light at the end of that dark tunnel. They are great for facilitating good behaviour and encouragement in a child – especially when it comes to a task, they find challenging. For all of us, rewards mean one thing – recognition for a great job done.
The most common way to track your child’s behaviour and to make sure things are done in the way they should, would be through the use of a score chart. The score chart is a great activity tracker as it also allows your child to track his / her progress – to see if they are on course to be rewarded for their efforts. It may be more advisable to reward for effort, rather than achievements.
The great thing about score charts is that you can get as creative as you like with them. They can be used to track individual efforts or as a family.
So, you’ve got the chart and can now track your child’s efforts. The next question is – how do you reward your child’s efforts? This is where you have to think carefully about what you’d like to give in return. What you reward your child with has to be something of value, in order to encourage your child to make the effort. If your child isn’t interested in the reward, he/she will not make the effort -It’s that simple! Care also has to be taken not to set the bar too high for the reward because of the value you have placed on it. This will also work in the reverse. If your child feels he/she can’t meet the requirements, they will give up and the aim will be defeated.
In terms of the reward itself, many children love stickers and are happy to build a collection out of them. But it is also a great idea to think a little bit more beyond stickers, especially as your child grows. There are so many ideas that can be used in conjunction with the stickers which will also have your child jumping with excitement and completely ‘stuck’ on the thought of completing whichever task has been set. What’s best of all, is that you don’t have to break the bank to implement these ideas and a lot of them can be done at home.
That said, let’s get into the different reward options:
Pick an activity
We know that there’s no better way for a child to spend its day than doing something they love best. Seeing as it isn’t possible for them to spend their whole day indulging in their favourite activity, why not use it as an incentive. There is a range of activities to choose from and while some children may have specific preferences (especially as they get older), most will be happy to settle for whatever is on the cards. A good tip is obviously bear in mind which activity tops your child’s list, as we talking about a reward here.
In this case, the list will be endless, due to the number of activities available to children. But to give you an idea of the types of activities that could make it onto your list: If your child loves to read, then more reading time it is! If your child’s preference is hanging out with the toys for an unscheduled tea party, rescue mission etc. then so be it.
Time with mum/dad
As parents, it can be a bit challenging to ensure our time is equally divided amongst our children. In as much as we interact and engage with our children regularly, it is advisable to get some bonding time with each of our children, whenever we can. This does not have to be an all-day event, as it is the quality as opposed to the amount of time spent together that counts. Again, think about what your child likes doing and join him/her – even if you have to crouch and cramp into one of the tiny chairs, as the guest of honour at one of their tea parties!
Sometimes, your child might just want to be with you, so it won’t really matter what is planned for that time. Just keep in mind that is a reward, so needs to feel like one.
Treat them to a treat
Yes, ‘treats’ always does the job! By its very definition, a treat is something out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure. So think along those lines and come up with a few ideas you know will have your child excited and looking forward it. How often do you go out for a meal…? Ask your child how he/she wants to play it…. would they like to share that event with the family, or just with mum and dad…? It’s their treat, so they get to call the shots.
A little Extra (….?)
This could be extra tv/device time. The extra time could be used to stay up a bit later than usual, more playtime or an extra portion of ice cream, choc cookies, milkshake etc. The amount extra time/portion should be clearly stated, in order to avoid discussions further down the line.
They get to choose
If there is normally a regular family activity. Your child could get to choose which activity is done on the day; if it’s a board, card game or any other activity, your child would have the final say on what is done. It may be a family night out, in which case you all would need to go wherever your child decrees.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reward ideas, but it does show that you can get as creative as you wish, when it comes to thinking of rewards for your child. You could even make it two-tiered for an even greater effort made e.g. a trip to the grandparents, (which could be a treat in itself, considering how grandparents normally dote on their grandchildren), who could have another treat in store for them.
Is your child at that age where he/she receives pocket money…? Well, how about a bonus that week/month?
On a final note, don’t limit rewards to just ‘things’, as sometimes an acknowledgement can hit that spot too. It should be about striking that balance so your child understands the reasoning behind the score chart and the reward system.
This understanding will stand your child in good stead in the long term.
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