Reward or Not to Reward…
The number of conflicting articles on this topic are quite popular. Just a simple search will result in many opinions on the benefits of rewarding kids along with plenty listing detriments.
Regardless of the existing opinions, the ONLY thing that matters is your own personal kiddo. What works for them? What is healthy for them? What is most powerful in teaching them how to live life as a growing child who will one day be an independent adult?
Hmm…those my friend, are the important questions. What fits your kid’s needs?
It’s not the opinion of others or even my opinion in this article. It is what is best for YOUR kids that is our ultimate goal.
So what is it that was best for my kids? And what continues to be best for my kids? Honestly, it’s a little of both. Let me explain…
Yes, I am a supporter of using rewards to help kids make positive choices.
Yes, I have used rewards with my kids. I have used structured rewards where I have posted them paired with chores and expectations. When the chore and/or expectation is met, a reward is given. I have also used mystery rewards, and the good ol’ reward of cash.
Yes, I will keep using rewards.
Yes, I even reward myself.
No, I don’t keep giving more and more rewards for compliance.
This (increasing rewards to meet your kids demands) is one of the major downfalls that the critics of using rewards talk about. They feel that behavior plans that include rewards only teach kids to earn the reward and in order to continue the positive behavior the rewards need to be changed and increased.
I agree with changing them up, but in the case of my kids – they did not have to increase in number. In fact, there are many positive behavior choices, chores, and expectations that they follow though on WITHOUT any rewards.
Behavior plans that use rewards are meant to diminish over time. Not increase. As your kids find success with their plan and earn their established reward consistently; it is time to start making plans to back off.
Perhaps instead of getting a reward after every chore. A reward is given after every two chores.
Or maybe, instead of earning a prize at the end of the day for following directions. A prize is given twice a week if the goal is still being met.
As adults we are rewarded by our actions all of the time. In fact I recently read a book that spoke against rewards but highly encouraged ways to motivate kids. To me, rewards and motivators overlap. I speak a little about this in our Bribery vs. Incentive article.
I am motivated to do the dishes because the reward I get is a clean kitchen.
I am motivated to go to work because my reward is a paycheck.
I am motivated to pay the bills so that my utilities stay on.
Fact: Humans are motivated by rewards. Your kids are no exception.
What motivates you?
Learning how to self-regulate our motivation to do what needs to be done as an adult (and as a growing kid) starts with learning now. Rewards helped my kids tremendously in this area.
I am proud to say that we are at a point in their young lives where we don’t need rewards daily. Expectations are met in our family because we are consistent (most of the time). Chores get done because they are part of the family and are required to help.
If I feel like a reward would be helpful in getting things done, I ALWAYS talk to them about the reward BEFORE making a request. That way it doesn’t turn into a bribe when they start complaining and I respond with what they can get in return. For real, check out our article on bribery. It talks even more about this highly controversial parenting topic.
So the decision rests with you and what is right for your kids.
Will you reward or not reward?? Comment and share.