“Reward good behaviour. Be firm and strict with bad behaviour.”
I’m sure like most parents, this is essentially your view on raising children.
However, I’ve learnt over the past couple of years, it’s not always easy to implement this philosophy.
Whether it’s because I’m tired after work, or distracted by something, I know there have been some instances when Mia has ‘got away’ with something..
..or I haven’t praised her when she’s been good.
With two parents working full-time, it’s challenging to raise children, so you often just hope you’re doing a good job overall
Seeing your son or daughter smile or laugh when you praise them is one of the wonderful moments of being a parent.
You can give short and immediate rewards on a day to day basis, or for older children, you can build up rewards step by step for a bigger prize!
Just try and avoid bribes as often as you can…
Rewards vs Bribes – What’s the difference?
I have to admit with Mia we do bribe occasionally.
It’s usually to get her to eat her dinner or put her to bed. The bribe could be to have a tasty treat, or to watch cartoons.
But fortunately, we don’t do it all the time.
This is because bribes can reinforce bad behaviour.
If a child knows they just has to behave badly, or not do what you ask, and you’ll cave in and give it something they want…
Well, guess what?
He or she is just going to keep doing this action over and over again to watch some TV, have some sweets etc.
It’s a reactive approach to dealing with a difficult situation, and it can lead to bad habits.
However, a reward is slightly different. It’s planned in advance before the bad behaviour has occurred.
In fact, it’s only given as a result of good behaviour.
For example, if you tell them at home that if they behave well during the car journey….they will get xyz.
That’s a reward.
And if they misbehave in the car, they don’t get the reward.
Simple as that.
Here are some reward ideas for kids, so you can encourage the little rascals to behave better…
Offering food and treats as a reward
These are usually some of the more effective rewards. Kids will do anything for food!
1. Give them some sweets or candy
2. Or give them their favourite piece of fruit (a more healthy option)
3. Let them choose what snack to have
4. Have an indoor picnic
5. Let them choose where to go out and eat
6. Let them choose what to make for lunch or dinner. Some kids love to help in the kitchen
This is simple, free and easy to do. I sometimes slip into the habit of telling Mia what NOT to do, where as I should be praising her for all the things she does well!
Praise can work well as a reward.
7. Give a ‘High 5”. Mia especially loves receiving one of these
8. Give a kiss or hug
9. Say ‘Well done’ or “Good job”
10. Tell them how proud you are of them.
Other reward ideas for kids
If food doesn’t work, there are always toys, TV and other little things to encourage good behaviour
11. Take them to their favourite playground
12. Let them watch a little bit more TV (just don’t do this one too often)
13. Go to the toy shop and let them choose a toy to buy
14. Give them some stickers. You can get sticker charts to put on the fridge for bigger rewards (see below)
15. Let them choose what music to listen to in the car.
16. Play their favourite game together e.g board games, card games, puzzles etc
17. Read their favourite book together, or offer to buy a book from your local shop
18. Play their favourite activity. Here’s a list of some here.
19. Play outside in the garden.
20. Let them stay up for an extra 15 minutes before they go to bed.
21. Go and feed the ducks
Rewards for older kids / Big rewards
For older children, offering a bigger reward can work well if they behave well over a number of days.
A sticker chart can help to track their progress of good behaviour too.
Here are some big rewards that almost all children will love!
22. Buy them a new scooter or bike
23. Go to the cinema
24. Go on a kids friendly holiday
25. A day trip to a fun museum. I’m lucky living in London as there are so many to choose from.
26. Camp out in the garden
27. Give their bedroom a makeover
28. Go to the zoo / aquarium
29. Go to a theme park
30. Go to a sports event.
When offering rewards you need to strike the right balance. You don’t want to do it too much as your child will start expecting rewards all the time.
But as long as the right expectations are set beforehand, and you don’t bribe your kids when they’re behaving badly, offering rewards can be a highly effective approach to encourage good behaviour.
Graham runs the place around here. He likes making a “little noise” about all things to do with tennis and parenting. Check out his about page to learn more.