5 Foundations for an Effective Reward System

reward system
Utilizing a reward system is one of the most effective ways to see a positive change in your child’s behavior.  Working toward and rewarding the positive behavior makes the behavior a habit, and in turn allows it to happen more often.  When you are rewarding the behavior you want to see, you are also constantly reminding them of the positive behavior, instead of telling them what not to do and reminding them what they are doing wrong.
Make sure the reward your child is working for is desirable. It is okay to change the reward if the current one is no longer desirable.  For younger kids, it can be fun to draw or print a picture so they can see the reward they are working toward.  If the reward is not desirable, your child is less likely to work hard.
Be clear
Let your child know how and when they will earn the reward. For example, IF you do clean your room, THEN you will earn dessert after dinner.  And make sure to follow through with their reward.
Consistent and Immediate
Waiting a week can be too long and not rewarding for your child.  Rewarding the smaller steps will help your child learn and practice positive habits and behaviors more often.
Make sure that the behavior is achievable.  If your child is not able to reach the goal, they likely will stop trying.  There may be some days where they don’t earn the reward, and that is okay.  Praise their effort and remind them they can try again tomorrow.  Come up with a plan together how they can earn their reward tomorrow.
Rewarding Effort over Outcomes
When you reward effort, your child will continue to try hard.  Although outcomes are not always what we expect, the effort and habit put into situation will help them further in life.  For example, reward your child for positive study habits over grades.
Written by Michele Flynn, MA, LPPC


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