Goal Setting Nazareth 18064Anyone who has ever taken care of a child knows that you can get kids to do virtually anything if there is a reward involved, but it is crucial to good parenting to make sure that the reward is appropriate.
While junk food and money can occasionally act as rewards in certain situations, positive feedback is often a more appropriate—and certainly healthier and less expensive—reward. Something as simple as a high five or positive encouragement when a child does something right can be all the reward they need.
Offering children rewards can be a great way to help them reach their goals. Create a system to motivate your child in an area where they normally fall short. If they have trouble getting their homework done, for example, offer a special reward for doing all of their homework for two straight weeks without missing an assignment. If they have a messy room, challenge them to keep it clean everyday in order to get a little extra spending money for the weekend.
Try rewarding positive actions with positive activities. Reward good grades or behavior with a trip to the library or park. Not only will this show your children that they have done something worth rewarding, but it will also introduce them to other positive influences—like reading or exercise in this example—without them even realizing it.
The best reward you can give your children is spending time with them. It is important to make time for your children, even with a busy schedule. If you have no free time to spare, still include them in your daily life by asking them to help you with something you have to do like cooking dinner, and make it fun by letting them pick their favorite meal or dessert. These rewards benefit both parent and child.
You also want to send the message that they can have anything they want as long as they work for it. No matter what the reward is, it will seem much more fulfilling if they know they have earned it.
It is unreasonable to offer rewards out of your price range or their maturity level, but you don’t have to say “no” all the time. Instead of denying requests, allow them with a condition. If a child wants dessert, let them have it as long as they have eaten their vegetables. If there is a toy a child has been asking for, get them to put their toys away everyday for a month before buying it for them. Because of the initial reward, eventually these tasks will turn into habits.
Age-appropriate rewarding can apply to older children as well. As a child grows, their “toys” get more and more expensive and sometimes dangerous. It seems like the immediate response to the question “Can I get an ATV?” posed by a 14-year-old would be “no.”
However, there are ways to say “no” without actually saying it. In the case of the ATV, you can compromise by suggesting that your child could get the ATV when he earns enough money to buy it. This eliminates the chance that he will have it before he is legally able to drive it because it will take so long to raise the money. If the child has to earn the money himself, it is more likely that he will reconsider buying the ATV because he knows how much he worked to raise the money. Children appreciate rewards more if they really earn them.
Though rewards shouldn’t be used so often that a child comes to expect one every time they do something they think is acknowledgeable, they are a great way to develop healthy habits for the future, like follow-through, goal-setting and hard work.