How to Reward Children

In Your Guest Writers on August 9, 2010 at 8:10 AM


Almost every parent will have to resort to bribing his or her child at some point in time. A bribe is typically used as a last resort when your child is acting up at the grocery store or when they won’t stop crying at a dinner party. A toy or a can of cola can have a drastic but temporary effect on your child’s behavior but is it good to use bribes like this?

If bribery becomes your sole technique then you’re in for some trouble. Although small bribes will help your child listen and behave in the short term, it can cause negative effects in the long term. When bribed constantly, your child will expect small prizes for doing ordinary tasks like brushing their teeth or doing their homework.

Small rewards, not bribes

You can use small rewards to help foster a positive role in your child’s upbringing. It could be as simple as a new pencil or even a compliment on a job well done. A new pencil or some verbal encouragement can be enough to give a small child the focus to complete daily tasks that they might not enjoy. As they grow older their internal motivations will increase and they will rely even less on your immediate support.

One major problem with bribes is that your child will start expecting a bribe for everything they do and other personal satisfaction type rewards will be overshadowed by the desire for more bribes. It can be a nasty habit to break and one that can be easily avoided in the first place.

Suspicious Kids

Another effect of bribery is that your child may become suspicious of any activities or chores associated with a bribe. For example, you might tell your child they can have ice cream if they try the quinoa salad you’ve made for dinner. Your child will get the sense that quinoa salad must taste bad if you’re willing to bribe them with ice cream.

When your child helps with the dishes they should get the feeling that they’re contributing to the household. If they are bribed for doing most chores around the house then those bribes will become their motivation for doing them.

Chances are that an occasional bribe won’t lead to major problems but don’t use bribes as the main way to get your child to pitch in or to try new things. When you do reward them, make sure it’s the smallest reward to get the job done.

Breaking the bribe habit

If you feel like you’ve been bribing your child too much you can try telling them that you’re aware of the feelings they have about chores and that you respect their opinion. Tell them that doing the dishes isn’t fun but that they need to do their part around the house. Trying to make the task interesting or fun isn’t going to work but telling your child the truth can make them understand how they can contribute. You can even explain to your child some of the things that you do each week that you don’t enjoy.

Don’t forget that some extra attention from parents can have a drastic effect on your child’s behavior. Instead of trying to find more expensive rewards to appease your small ones, spend some more time with them.

This is a guest post from Donald Farber from the Canadian life insurance website


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