Let's talk about rewards :)

Becky - posted on 08/02/2010 ( 28 moms have responded )

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We're having this conversation currently on my FB page, Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond. It seems there's a new anti-rewards trend thanks to Alfie Kohn and other experts. Hmmm. I haven't read his book, but I have been known to use reward charts occasionally. I personally don't see a problem with them. Rewards are as much a part of life as consequences, IMO. You get rewards for doing good in school and in the work place. Heck, I reward myself all the time. lol. It doesn't mean I only do good things in order to get a reward, and I think my kids are smart enough to reason that out as well. Furthermore, I think if it ever comes to a point where my children will only do the right thing if a reward is involved, then I need to re-evaluate my parenting because I'm missing the mark somewhere else. To me, if I model good behavior and values and consistently teach my children right from wrong and the value of doing right, then offering them a reward on occasion is not going to make them selfish brats. I think to say so is a bit extreme.



So lets add some spice to our nice girls ;-) What do you think about rewards?

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[deleted account]

There is a difference between rewards and bribes.

Rewards IMO are just to give some positive reinforcement to help a child with something they are struggling with or a thank you for good behaviour without having been forced. It's a small payment and comes after the fact.

Bribes are dangerous. It establishes a negative parent child dynamic, where the child thinks if their behaviour is bad then they can coerce their parents into paying them to behave. Payment or promise of payment comes before or is inappropriate to to task.

[deleted account]

hey Dana. i found heaps of great information and ideas about toilet training on the Huggies website: http://www.huggies.com.au/toddler/toilet...

i read through it all over a period of time and thought they explained it really well. if you have time, read through all of the material on there.
i havent used the tips yet though as im waiting till summer when isaac is 2years old to start with him.
curious to see if this helps you though, or if its just another one of those things that sounds good on paper....

[deleted account]

I think that just like anything else in life, it's all about balance and ensuring the reward is being given for the right reasons. It's about getting the job done and doing it well and taking pride in the accomplishment. The reward is just a bonus.
:)

JuLeah - posted on 08/02/2010

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I don't do anything unless there is a reward in it for me. The reward might be a smile on my child's face when I say, "Let's go to the zoo"
It might be a thank you from a person I meet while volunteering .... it might be a cat purring when I rub her head, it might be a pay check, it might be the look on my sister's face when she opens a gift I got her, while in grad school it was a high mark which I knew opened doors, ..... you get the idea.

We all interact for the reward we receive - no one does anything unless there is an upside - even gross stuff, like cleaning up vomit when your kid is sick - you do it so our kid will be clean, feel cared for, will get well, so you have a clean house .... there is always an upside.

Jaime - posted on 08/02/2010

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I thought the same about rewards and then I watched the "Hyper Parents & Coddled Kids" documentary and now I am not so sure they are effective or necessary. Rewards can often backfire if used in excess...and most parents do use the reward system to excess because they ARE looking for a desired positive consequence to a particular situation. This can lead to entitlement and also on the flip side it can lead to certain expectations on the part of the parent for their child to do well. Even the phrase "good job" is in a sense a verbal reward that we use ad nauseum. And by the time our kids get to college, it almost becomes the next criticism for them to always be expected to do well based on the rewards that they will receive as as a result. The pressure can be overwhelming for kids and this pressure is often what leads to early drop-out, substance abuse, depression...the list goes on. Someone asked me once what I hoped for Gray when he was older and my answer then was the same as it is now...I hope that he is happy, the rest is up to him. I have no preconceived notions of what his future will be like, all I can hope is that he is happy and pursues the path that will maintain that happiness. It's up to me to help him understand how he can achieve his goals, but the doing is up to him.

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Queen - posted on 05/03/2012

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I just started a rewards system with my kids as a counter measure for acting up at school. Each day that they have a "good/great" day at school, they earn a ticket. After they collect 5 tickets, they get a reward from the reward jar. There are all sorts of things in there that range from going to the trampoline place to jump, skating, bowling, going to ice cream after school, going to the zoo, earn some color/scented pencils, wrestling collectors cards, glitter glue pens, gift cards for their favoreite stores (justice, gap, childrens place, footlocker, the dollar store, coupons for sleepovers, picked up from school in limo, trip to mcdonalds playland, bowling, make brownies, popcorn and a movie, coupons for an extra 15min of staying up late or tv, go to the $3 movie, have a playdate after school on one Fri,etc.

Some rewards cost more than others but they draw them out at random. Most of the things are things we would normally do anyway. Now it is an earned treat. It's a great time for bonding and showing them that you can also get attention for something positive.

If there is a day they dont earn a ticket it, we discuss why they didn't, how they can work on it for the next day and move on. It is a great motivator. They look forward to the prize.

Becky - posted on 08/06/2010

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He was 2-1/2 exactly, and as far as I remember, he never had an accident during the day after that very first day! It was too easy, lol. He did wear a diaper still at night, but after about a week, those stayed dry too :)

[deleted account]

Ya, my next step is to take her to buy underwear. How old was Gavin when you started training him? How long did it take before he was accident free during the day?

Becky - posted on 08/05/2010

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Dana, Gavin would sit on the potty just to get a sticker too. The chart alone wasn't enough, we had to have a potty party and buy cool underwear and the whole bit :)

Caitlin - posted on 08/05/2010

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Stickers for my daughter backfired for potty training because when she got one, she would have a meltdown because I woulnd't let her have more. Not a big deal really, we're just introducing the concept really, she's too young to get it yet.

I don't like bribes.. I taught swimming in an upscale neighbourhood when I was younger, and 1 case really stuck out in my mind, I would always give the kids stickers in class if they did something new, like blow bubbles or put their head in the water. It wasn't really bribery in my mind, and it worked and motivated them to try new things (these were 3-5 year olds). I had a mom of a stuck up incredibly spoiled 3 year old who would BRIBE her daughter with a jumbo box of chocolate candy to do things.. It backfired for that mom, and I could see who controlled that parent/child relationship. And also scared me because even I can't eat that much chocolate candy in one sitting!

[deleted account]

I did the sticker thing when my eldest was potty training. He got one sticker for sitting, two for a pee and three for a poop.

[deleted account]

Becky, I totally get what you're saying and I do agree with you to a certain extent but in my case the sticker thing backfired.....she would sit on her potty JUST to get a sticker. I just think that because every child is different some "rewards" will work better than others.

I also agree with Nicole, everything in life needs balance. Rewards aren't horrible or detrimental BUT they could be. It's up to us to find that happy balance and do what works with our children. At this point I don't know how to encourage Roxanne to use the potty so we've put it on hold because I've noticed her getting angry or frustrated. She'll use it on HER time or her say so but never when I suggest she sit or even if I offer to sit with her BUT that's a whole other topic! I'm rambling

Becky - posted on 08/04/2010

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Yep, I agree Nicole. I actually currently have a "reward" chart for both my boys. I'm trying to get them in the habit of doing some chores, and Aiden *hates* to brush his teeth, so that one is on his chart as well. Each time they do their "chore" I give them a sticker. I have told them that once the chart is full of stickers, I'll take them and let them pick out a new toy truck or something. The point, though, is to get them in the daily habit of doing their chores. Now, so you don't think I'm a slave driver, the 21 month old's "chores" are helping to put toys in toy bins and "sweeping the kitchen" because he loves to play with the broom. Then brushing is on there. For my 3 yo, its picking up toys, wiping off the kitchen table, and helping me fold towels, which he loves to do. Its about instilling a sense of responsibility. If they were older and I paid them an allowance for doing this, I'd be teaching them responsibility, but because I pay them in stickers and they use the stickers to buy a toy, I guess maybe its a reward? lol. It all depends on how you look at it :)

Jaime - posted on 08/03/2010

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lol...a looney is a one dollar coin Nikki. It's our crazy canuck currency! And what's this about not giving rewards in the form of food? How will all the Jenny Craig people ever be able to lose weight for a dollar a pound if they can't have their lasagna and chocolate cake? IMPOSSIBLE I say! lmao

Nikki - posted on 08/03/2010

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Good point JL, a lot of people I know use food as a reward or distraction I am a firm believer that rewards or bribes should NEVER come in the way of food, but that's a whole other barrel of worms.

Jaime - posted on 08/03/2010

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So I shouldn't give Gray cake and a shiny looney every time he uses the potty then?

[deleted account]

Yes, I agree with Cathy and I'm sure most of the rest of you will agree too.....it really depends on how we define "rewards".

[deleted account]

rewards when used correctly are mostly encouragement. you naturally encourage someone when they are going through a tough time learning something you. you offer them incentives to keep them going. but once they have mastered the skill they dont need that reward anymore to keep them going. and the natural cause & effect of what they are doing is reward enough.
e.g learning to ride a bike. you need to encourage the child to get on the bike him self and give it a go, and you will praise them along the way. but once they've been riding their bike on their own for a while there is no need for the reward/praise. and they will keep riding be cause they get something out of it - independence, a feeling of accomplishment etc...

i agree with Juleah that everything in life you do to get a positive outcome in some form or other, but i wouldnt call these natural effects "rewards". rewards are more about materialistic incentives, and presents etc... and on that basis i'm not entirely sure that im completly on board with a "reward system". kinda yes and no. personally i need to explore it more, and maybe need to read this "Alfie Kohn "'s book, it might teach me something. I would like to hear from someone how has read it?

[deleted account]

I guess that's what I was trying to get at.....while I realize the life is full of natural rewards, materialistic rewards haven't been beneficial for us...YET! That doesn't mean as she gets older and understands the concept a bit better we may try again!?

Nikki - posted on 08/02/2010

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I love rewards, I think they are just part of life and it is an important concept for children to learn. Why do people go to work? Why do you eat healthy and exercise? Because there is a positive consequence at the end of it, our whole world is one big bribe.

I agree that the biggest rewards can be the smallest things in life, which is where I think the knack for this trick lies, teaching children to appreciate that a reward might just be a smile, it is not always about materialistic rewards.

[deleted account]

I agree with what JuLeah had to say.....sometimes it's just the smallest things in life that are the biggest rewards. Roxanne would rather a high five over a cookie any day!

[deleted account]

I tend not to give "rewards" anymore.....Roxanne is almost 23 months and I noticed that offering rewards wasn't necessarily encouraging the outcome I was hoping for. We started potty training and I decided to give her a sticker to put on her potty everytime she used it successfully. We went out together and she picked out the stickers in the hopes of encouraging her participation. After a couple days of doing fairly well with the potty she just refused to go anymore and decided instead that EVERY single time she sat on the potty, whether she went to the washroom or not, she wanted a sticker. "Rewards" backfired in this instance.

I don't think they're bad in/for all situations but I also believe that has a lot to do with the child's personality.

Roxanne is still thrilled to get a high five or me telling her, "mommy is very proud of you for using your potty!"......these things work with her.....rewards did not!

[deleted account]

I think rewards are fine occasionally. Like you said, if children do everything expecting a reward, there is a problem. I haven't read the books by Alfie Kohn, only excerpts... I see his point, it just doesn't resonate with me. Rewards should be an incentive to do good but not a necessity. I think children have to feel proud that they achieved something no matter if there is a material reward or not and that comes from what we show them.

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