What is a Positive Reward System?
A positive reward system is a simple way to encourage a desired behavior. These systems are designed to motivate children through positive reinforcement. So, basically, you're using desirable rewards/incentives to teach your child exactly what you would like him or her to do. Positive reward systems are often used to motivate children to potty train, do chores, follow daily routines, or to encourage appropriate behavior towards others. Examples of positive reward systems include sticker charts, ticket systems, reward jars, and punch cards. Visit my Pinterest board, Positive Reward Systems, for a whole slew of great ideas!
Tips for Using Positive Reward Systems at Home
1) Use a system that is simple enough for your child to understand.
For very young children, stay away from anything too complicated, such as systems that require reading or coloring in the lines. You want your child to be able to use the system independently or with a just bit of assistance.
2) Introduce the system with enthusiasm!
When you first show your tot the positive reward system, act as though it's the best thing on the planet. Smile, laugh, make "oohh and aahh" noises. Jump up and down if you want! Your child will feed off of your enthusiasm.
3) Choose a reward system that will excite your child.
If your tot isn't motivated by stickers, then steer clear of sticker charts. Find something they love (a favorite character, a preferred color scheme, or most loved foods), and use it to motivate them!
4) Offer realistic rewards/incentives.
If you know there's a chance of rain and that you won't be able to play at the park that day, don't offer a playground visit as a potential reward. Examples of rewards include special outings, treats, stickers, a small prize, extended playtime on the iPad, or reading an extra story at bedtime.
5) Reward almost instantly at first.
Young children are not equipped with the patience and understanding it requires to wait long periods for a reward. In the beginning, reward at the time of the desired behavior or within one or two days. Once they understand the behavior that you are requiring of them AND the way in which the system works, feel free to extend time between rewards. For children ages 2-4, I recommend rewarding once a week at minimum.
6) Always keep the reward system positive.
Please do not punish your child by taking something away that they have earned via the positive reward system . Find something unrelated, such as a time out, to use as a negative consequence.
7) Be patient.
Sometimes it takes a few tries with a new reward system before a child understands the way it works and begins to feel motivated by it. As the parent, you'll know if you've chosen a system that's a good match for your tot. Just don't give up before you are absolutely sure that the system won't be effective.
8) Stay consistent.
Don't bend the rules, unless you know that the positive reward system is not working as is. If you cave and give a reward that's unjustified or act lenient with the system, your child will quickly learn that they can manipulate you. Stay strong and follow through on your word!
If you found this post helpful or informative, have a question about reward systems, or you would like to suggest further tips for implementing positive reward systems, please leave a comment! A good discussion is welcomed. The ultimate goal is to help each other as parents. The more that we share, the better it is for everyone!
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