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How to Reward Children

Learn how to reward children in this Howcast video about child anxiety issues.


I'm going to talk about how to reward children. When you think about rewarding children, there's actually at least three specific things you're trying to do. When you reward children, it's about what you expect of them and expect them to do. Rewards often show appreciation for something that a child did, and rewards often indicate and provide a way for you to help children continue something you want them to do. So it's not about bribery. It's not about how much or how little to give them. It's about what's being rewarded and how it's being rewarded.

First of all when you're rewarding things, it should be very specific and it should be tied to something. You never want to just say, "Good job." You want to say, "That was such great effort that you did when you were practicing today." So it's very specific, and it's tied to something, and then the child knows what to do to continue. Again that works for children of all ages up through teenage years.

You also notice that I said, "Good job for effort," because our words are often about what you say and showing approval. It's not about what you give them. It's not about money. It's not about things. Kids really from a very young age when they're born, they want that love, and attention, and approval, and acceptance from those parents that are taking care of them.

The other thing is you want to reward them for things that show that they did a good job. So you want to comment on it, be specific, and then it will also get them to do it more. When you're trying to change behavior by using some kind of reward system, maybe it's stickers, maybe it's a contract, maybe it's just good old fashioned praise, time, attention rewards with extra stories or extra game time. What you want to do is make sure that you're rewarding the right thing. So it's not just what you're rewarding in terms of the reward itself. It's what it's tied to.

Parents sometimes don't realize they are rewarding negative behavior. So a typical example might be the child who has trouble sitting may come out of the room and you bring them back, and they come out of the room and you bring them back. They are actually being rewarded for coming out of the room and getting more attention. So what you need to do is think through and figure out a way to reward them for staying in the room, not coming out of the room.

So there's many examples every day that you're going to encounter from your child. They're going to try to get that reward of attention from you and you want to make sure you're giving it in the right way at the right time and pointing it out, so that they can do more of it and you can praise all you want as long as it's attached to something that you want your child to do that they can now learn how to do even better and more.

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