Rewarding your children for working hard should be something we do every single day. Think about it. How many times do we as parents reward ourselves at the end of the day? After the kids are in bed do you find something enjoyable to do?
Do you get up in the morning a wee bit early just to sit alone with a cup of coffee? These are the things that keep us going. They give us something to look forward to. When we expect our children to work hard, we need to help them learn to set goals and rewards.
When I taught in the classroom there were reward charts everywhere. Ace your spelling test? Go put a sticker on the chart and enjoy a piece of candy. Read a lot of books? Let’s have a pizza party! The class got a lot of compliments on their behavior? Time for a popcorn party! Let’s face it. We all do better when we have extrinsic rewards.
Today I want to share with you some tips I’ve learned with my school kids and my own kids. But first, here are a few tips on how to set up your reward system.
Tip #1 Goal Setting
You must teach your children how to set goals. This is a valuable skill that will follow them throughout their life. There are so many positive outcomes to goal setting.
- it helps kids with academic performance
- it motivates them to be achievers
- it increases pride and confidence in themselves
When sitting down with your child to discuss goal setting, focus on skills that need to be strengthened. It could be academic, but it could also be something to do with behavior as well.
Tip #2 Small Incentives
It’s hard for anyone to set a goal with the reward months down the road. Set small, attainable goals with small incentives as your child works for the big goal. If your child is working hard to move up a reading level, that’s going to take a lot of work and time. As a small incentive, set a goal of reading 20 minutes every day for a week. If your child reaches this goal, reward them with something small like a trip to the ice cream parlor, swimming with friends, or a few hours at the local bouncy house. Remember, this reward is for effort, not for achievement. It’s very important to reward hard work.
Using some type of chart is a great visual when trying to reach a goal. Sometimes, especially for younger children, just putting a sticker up on a chart is incentive enough.
This reward can be used every single day. When your child stayed focused on a task for one hour, praise him! When they are quietly reading a book that is on their booklist, take their picture. Text it to a friend or your spouse to let them know how hard they are working.
Date With Daddy or Mommy
When a child has worked particularly hard on something, it’s time for a date! Take them to a movie or out to eat; just you and them.
Cook Or Order Their Favorite Dinner
Most of the time my kids will do anything for sushi. They can eat their weight in sushi rolls. Because it can be fairly expensive to feed my family sushi, I’ll save sushi dinners for special occasions.
Watch A Movie
When your child finishes a novel, celebrate by watching the movie! Don’t forget the popcorn!
Go On A Trip
Has your child accomplished something big? Go on a trip! Put aside some money each week in anticipation for celebrating.
Buy A New Toy
I’m pretty much a toy minimalist. But, when my middle child had a big academic hurdle to jump, I made sure we had a big reward in store. She has been talking about wanting a dollhouse, FOREVER! Before she began working towards her goal, I had her pick out the dollhouse of her dreams on Amazon and place it in my shopping cart. When she begins to get tired of working on her goals, all we have to do is to take a look at the dollhouse to motivate her to keep going.
Sometimes money talks; especially for older kids. If you need a little extra help around the house, putting a price tag on chores can help motivate kids to be a little more helpful around the house.
Family Days Out
Does your kid love water parks or hiking? Plan a day out of the house when your child puts forth the effort.
A Day of Rest
Reward your kids with a day of rest each week. If they have been working on their goal all week, be sure to have a day where they can play a video game, watch a movie, or just chill. In fact, plan some rest time after working hard each day.
I hope some of these rewards will help your kids to do this best this school year. I’ll be cheering you on along the way!