Reward And Praise
Many schools nowadays, at both primary and secondary level, follow a praise and reward system. Most have reported that these systems do work in promoting good behaviour.Parents can make a difference to a child’s behaviour at home and when doing homework by using a similar praise and reward system. This entails providing the child with clear rules to be followed, rewards for following the rules and sanctions for breaking those rules. By recognising good behaviour and punishing bad behaviour the good behaviour will be reinforced and encouraged.
Types of RewardThere are different means of rewarding a child for good behaviour. These can be broken down into physical and verbal incentives. A verbal incentive can be praise recognition of work well done. This can be responsible for both improving a child’s behaviour, the standard of their work and raising their self-esteem. Praise can be a very powerful motivator as children strive towards getting the positive attention that you will lavish on them when they have done well. Try to focus only on the things that your child has done well, rather than focussing on problematic behaviours. A child will seek negative attention rather than get no attention at all.
Physical incentives or ‘tangible rewards’ could range from time on the computer or watching television to a sweet treat or gift. Try to keep sweet treats to minimum as giving these on a consistent basis can result in tooth cavities and unhealthy eating habits. There are endless possibilities, and you as a parent will know which incentives will motivate your child as each child will be motivated and encouraged by different factors.
Do Not Bribe!There is a fine line between rewarding your child for work they have done well and ‘bribing’ your child into good behaviour. The difference between a bribe and a reward system is that offering your child a treat before the desired behaviour is a bribe; for example “I will give you a treat when you get all your homework done”, whereas with a reward system the desired behaviour is done before the treat is offered – your child does their homework and then they are given the reward.
The difference between a bribe and a reward system is minimal but significant at the same time. If a child notices that their good behaviour and attention to homework is being rewarded they will make more of an effort to please you. They will also notice that they can behave badly at first and then be offered a bribe to do the right thing, so it is important that you implement a reward system only.
It is important that reward systems are not overused. If you use them for nearly everything you want your child to do they may begin to feel that they should be ‘paid’ for everything that they do. This can have long-term negative consequences for your child’s behaviour when they realise that this is not the case. Save your reward system for specific things that you want your child to improve on such as homework and/or behaviour. When you have implemented your reward system you will eventually be able to phase out tangible rewards but continue with positive reinforcement once your child starts to demonstrate the desired behaviour.