Rewarding children for behaviors

Jun 13, 2017 | MY MINI MES

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hat’s your say on rewarding kids? Personally I have rewarded my children for good behavior but after doing a bit of research I am conflicted. I find that at the ages our children are at, it can be a bit challenging. I have to reward them when they do something good so that they know if I continue doing well a positive comes out of it.

Over the weekend my 4yo son said to me, “mama I don’t like it when you and daddy yell at me all the time.” I felt so bad. I know I yell a lot at them. Mostly its because I cannot say anything once and they do what they are told or stop what they are doing. One of the things I pray for is patience with them. I have been getting better at choosing my battles though. When I do I find that there is less yelling and both kids are happy and I am a happy stress free mama.

So I started doing some research to find out whether rewarding was good. Boy did I get different information. In an article I found by Time (www.time.com) , they talked about the downsides of rewarding from their research stating that, “By using possessions to reward or, on the flip side, punish children, parents may be setting the stage for long-term overconsumption, the study found. Children raised in households where acts of discipline involved giving or taking away belongings were more likely to continue rewarding and defining themselves with material things. They also grew up to admire people with expensive possessions and judge people based on what they own. Of course, many parents might wonder what they can do to reinforce good behavior without using material rewards. While the authors caution that using experiential rewards (say, a trip to Disneyland) can also make kids more materialistic, teaching your children to be grateful can mitigate the negative effects of any rewards you provide.”

Recently what we have been trying to do is to get Kupa to tryto be good as much as possible all week and then he has his special treat on Sunday after church. I started this tradition a while ago whereby I would take the kids for frozen yoghurt every Sunday after church but then Kupa started misbehaving and thinking he was entitled to it so daddy decided to make it a reward instead of a an every weekend thing. I also noticed that if I take the toy he loves the most during that week he is not really a happy camper so he tries to be good. With Brielle now that she is getting towards 2, we have started easing her into the strict discipline and she is starting to get it. She is stubborn but eventually she gets that mama and dad won’t budge.

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child psychologist in Perth was published by ABC saying that, “In reality, all the research we have done on motivation shows that as soon as you offer kids a reward to do something, their attention is taken away from what they are doing and put onto the reward. Although you might get compliance, by offering a reward, you tend to end up with kids that are less engaged and less motivated to do the things you actually wanted them to do.”

Now it’s not all negative when it comes to the outcomes of rewarding behaviors. The CDC wrote that, “Rewards are important for many reasons. First, rewards can be used to increase self-esteem. Toddlers and preschoolers hear the words “no,” “don’t,” “stop,” and “quit” many times during the day. This is normal and one of the ways they learn right from wrong. But when children hear these things over and over, their self-esteem can begin to suffer. They may begin to believe they cannot do anything correctly. Rewards can be used to increase self-esteem. When a child earns a reward, he knows he has done something good and something you like. Rewards can also help improve your relationship with your child. When you give a reward to your child, you and your child are both happy. You are happy because your child has done something you like. Your child is also happy because she is getting something she likes.” Kids matter (www.kidsmatter.edu.au) also say support this as they say that, “praising children for their efforts is motivating as it teaches them what they’re doing well. They can then use this learning when they have similar experiences in the future. For example, a parent or carer might say: “I noticed you were really trying hard at building that block tower’ or “Wow, look how smoothly you’re rolling out that play dough”. This kind of praise is effective as it refers to the process of completing an activity. Saying things to children such as: “You are a good girl for picking up your toys” focuses on the child’s sense of self as being good or bad rather than the process of the activity. Such comments may make children (especially older children) relate how they feel about who they are to their achievements. They might assume they are a bad girl or boy because they haven’t solved a problem or completed an activity. Praise and rewards both motivate and de-motivate children, depending on how they are used. When and how children have been praised may be one reason why they differ in their levels of confidence and motivation.”

I think rewarding children if done the right way can turn out to be a good thing. Happy rewarding and hopefully we have happy children happy parents. Kupa was rewarded at school for being a good student and he got to take home Gula the stuffed koala for the week. He does everything with that koala.

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