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Do Rewards Work on Children?

Learn if rewards work on children from Dr. Kimberly Williams in this Howcast video.


When I'm working with families and children, I often like to steer away from the use of rewards in day-to-day situations. However, from time-to-time we know that children need different incentives and motivations to demonstrate positive behaviors. So when we think about rewards, you would like to make sure that the rewards aren't thought of randomly but very specific to the situation. I like to remind parents that the rewards should be something that are very simple, and something that you can really carry out, such as staying up late for bed, extra computer time, bedtime stories, and things of that nature, as opposed to monetary rewards and going to the store to buy different things.

In a clinical sense, when I'm working with parents, I like to use rewards in a step-by-step kind of fashion. And that way, based on what the individual behavior is that we're trying to shape, we can gradually pull back on the rewards so, ultimately, the child is carrying out the positive behavior without the incentive. But what I'd like parents to recognize is that rewards, paired with consequences and lots and lots of praise, you can get the positive behavior from your child that makes the family happy and healthy.

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