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How to Effectively Use Rewards and Consequences

Every parent needs the secret to improving behavior with their children. Often that comes in the form of rewards and consequences. While most parents realize this, they may not always know the most effective way to go about using this system to their advantage. If you can master the art of using a consequence and reward system for kids, you will have the ultimate tool in helping to teach your child and shape their behavior. Start by learning the step-by-step approach below, getting useful tools like reward charts, and then choose your resource for parenting products and educational toys.

Reward System, Step by Step

The goal of using kids rewards and consequences is to change something that your child may be doing or to get them to start doing something you want them to do. Whether it is getting them to do their homework, clean their room, or to stop their whining, kids around elementary school age (as well as most other ages) are usually receptive to a rewards and consequences model for improving behavior. To get rewards and consequences to effectively work for you, consider these tips:

  • Set up a behavior chart with the desired behaviors and goals. This keeps this visible and track-able. Teach your child the basics of how a reward systems works.
  • Get your child involved in setting up and using the chart, allowing them to feel a part of it. For example, if the goal is to get them to clean their room each day, have them put a smiley face when the do and an unhappy face when they don't. At the end of the week, if there are more smiley faces than unhappy ones, give them a reward. If you allow children to give their input from the start, your consequence and reward system is much more likely to work for both kids and parents.
  • Establish what the rewards and consequences are going to be ahead of time so your child knows. For example, if their chores are done, they can use the computer. The consequence is that they don't get to use the computer if their chores are not done. Giving children a reward like a toy they’ve been asking for or a sweet may work, but is that what’s best for them in the long run? If you have kids’ rewards be learning toys, the child is benefiting in several ways. Learning toys have come a long way, and good parenting products stores now carry toys that are fun And educational.
  • Keep the time frame for the rewards and consequences short so that kids know the reward is in sight. For example: When using a behavior chart, give kids rewards at the end of each week, if they have met the goals set for that week. Anything longer and the reward system may lose its effectiveness because children will lose site of the goal.
  • Focus on the positives, or what it is that the child will get to do or have as the reward, rather than the negatives. Also, be sure to praise effort for making improvements, even if they don't make it every time.

Good Behavior is the Long-Term Reward for Parents and Kids

Using rewards and consequences, as with most parenting techniques, takes patience and practice. Behavior changes in children usually don't happen overnight. But if parents are consistent with a reward system for kids, they will be successful in helping to bring about positive changes over time.