How to Reward Your Child

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As the school year’s end gets closer and closer, many students will be getting awards for their achievements. Honor roll, good attendance, high school, and athletics are just a few. Awards are good. They encourage students to do their best and to strive for greater heights in the future. I remember my first trophy. It meant the world to me that I had done something that warranted recognition. For some, participation trophies are necessary because doing one’s best takes a lot of effort regardless of the outcome. I remember football being such a sport. We all got trophies and to account for all the running this heavy boy did, I should have received two trophies.

In the home there are also small doses of recognition that encourage children to work, participate and consider positive behavior. We do this though giving money, more TV time and at my house it’s chocolate. I believe my 5 year old girl would clean every toilet in our house for a good piece of chocolate. Again, these rewards are good. Children will never see the value of cleaning their closets now because it will make them a better person later in life, but they do see the value in getting something in return right now.

What you give your child (and when) is up to each parent. However, there are some things that children should just be expected to do and there are categories in which children should get something because they may not see the big picture. A balance must be struck wherein the child learns just what is expected and what he gets rewarded for because maybe the act requires a little more effort.

Things the child should just be expected to do. Things like speaking respectfully and being nice to his sister should just be done. This is a mistake on the parents part if you constantly reward your child. You are teaching your child that everything he does gets rewarded and he is partially controlling your behavior rather than the other way around. Good behavior is its own reward.

What should your child be rewarded for doing? Maybe you are encouraging them to start or stop a habit. By giving them an expectation and a reward at the end, you can help them find the motivation to do better. Small events wherein he/she shows they are growing up. As potty training gets easier and easier, you should recognize this and praise the child. Maybe not with something tangible, but emotional recognition goes a long way. For older children, driving for a week or a month and not getting into an accident. By recognizing this small accomplishment you show that you’ve noticed their responsible behavior. Sometimes we are too busy speaking about the negative to notice the positive.

Helping around the house with things that aren’t a normal part of their regular chores. Your child may get an allowance each week for completing their chores, but what about cleaning out the garage? That’s not done regularly but you sure could use the help and you know that to your son or daughter, nothing could be more boring. One thing to consider is what your child’s specific needs are. Does he/she need a lesson in humility? Don’t pay them anything. Does he/she need a lesson that a good job gets rewarded? Promise to pay them and then promise a little extra if certain guidelines are met.

However you treat your child when it comes to rewards, make sure you are leading your child down a path of good character. By teaching them about lessons involving work, you are leaving the world hopefully a little better than you found it.

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