Thursday, March 3, 2011

Should you Reward your Children? II

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:51 PM
I ended the last post with this question: If God rewards us, why would we ever withhold rewards from our children?

When we have an appropriate perspective on rewarding and motivating our children and what the proper rewards and incentives are, we allow ourselves to abundantly bless our children and ourselves, as we see them grow through positive interactions. There are many ways to reward our children and many different types of incentives available to motivate children. I think about my children when they were infants. As they learned to smile, to sit up, to crawl, to walk, I was there every step of the way cheering them on. A smile, a little clapping, and a big “yah!” was all they needed to encourage them to keep doing what they were doing and/or try a little harder to make that next step. Cheering our children on is a great way to motivate them. Children generally really do want to please their parents. Cheering for our children can come in many forms and will depend on your personality, your child’s personality, and the situation. Hugs, “way to go,” “I’m proud of you,” and “great job!” are all examples of ways to praise our children. It’s about encouraging them along when they’re getting it right and trying their best.

Time with our children and special treats are additional ways to reward them. We can take them on a special outing for good behavior or completed tasks over a period of time. We can let them choose a movie for the family to watch. We can let them pick what restaurant we’re going to eat at. We can buy them a small treat, or even have monetary rewards. It is all based on what works for your family and what motivates your child.

See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; Deuteronomy 11:26-27

With rewarding children, a few more things are important to keep in mind. First, you want to keep rewards relational-heavy. That means that the non-material rewards are not the primary method of reward and incentive and shouldn’t ever become the main focus. Second, rewards should not turn into bribes for expected behavior. If we promise our children a material reward every time we expect something out of them it will be much more difficult for them to internalize their motivation. There if a fine line between rewards and bribes. The main difference is that rewards are laid out ahead of time and eventually decrease in necessity. Bribes, on the other hand, usually are promised in heat of the moment, desperate situations and the child’s requirement of them for obedience increases over time. I think specifically about the reward system for potty training. We used several different methods for our children, but the dancing and singing and “I’m proud of you” always came first. The material rewards were small (3 M&M’s, computer time, eventually a train car) and over time were eliminated. That is how rewards should work. Of course, you will always be adding rewards to teach new skills and behaviors as they grow, but those rewards should remain mostly intangible and a child’s internal motivation should be increasing as they mature.

Lastly, we, as moms, should keep in mind that perfection is never the goal for our children. We should have high expectations for our children, but should recognize that they are human (just like us) and will fail at times (just like us.) We should “expect the best of [our] kids in all situations. Encourage them to shoot for excellence but not perfectionism.” (9) We must make sure that are children don’t feel pressured to be perfect – because they will never reach perfection and will feel like failures if that’s the goal. Instead we need to focus on what our children are doing right and encourage them to strive for better and their best. Then their motivation will increase and they will take pride in doing their best in every situation.

0 comments on "Should you Reward your Children? II"

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Should you Reward your Children? II

I ended the last post with this question: If God rewards us, why would we ever withhold rewards from our children?

When we have an appropriate perspective on rewarding and motivating our children and what the proper rewards and incentives are, we allow ourselves to abundantly bless our children and ourselves, as we see them grow through positive interactions. There are many ways to reward our children and many different types of incentives available to motivate children. I think about my children when they were infants. As they learned to smile, to sit up, to crawl, to walk, I was there every step of the way cheering them on. A smile, a little clapping, and a big “yah!” was all they needed to encourage them to keep doing what they were doing and/or try a little harder to make that next step. Cheering our children on is a great way to motivate them. Children generally really do want to please their parents. Cheering for our children can come in many forms and will depend on your personality, your child’s personality, and the situation. Hugs, “way to go,” “I’m proud of you,” and “great job!” are all examples of ways to praise our children. It’s about encouraging them along when they’re getting it right and trying their best.

Time with our children and special treats are additional ways to reward them. We can take them on a special outing for good behavior or completed tasks over a period of time. We can let them choose a movie for the family to watch. We can let them pick what restaurant we’re going to eat at. We can buy them a small treat, or even have monetary rewards. It is all based on what works for your family and what motivates your child.

See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; Deuteronomy 11:26-27

With rewarding children, a few more things are important to keep in mind. First, you want to keep rewards relational-heavy. That means that the non-material rewards are not the primary method of reward and incentive and shouldn’t ever become the main focus. Second, rewards should not turn into bribes for expected behavior. If we promise our children a material reward every time we expect something out of them it will be much more difficult for them to internalize their motivation. There if a fine line between rewards and bribes. The main difference is that rewards are laid out ahead of time and eventually decrease in necessity. Bribes, on the other hand, usually are promised in heat of the moment, desperate situations and the child’s requirement of them for obedience increases over time. I think specifically about the reward system for potty training. We used several different methods for our children, but the dancing and singing and “I’m proud of you” always came first. The material rewards were small (3 M&M’s, computer time, eventually a train car) and over time were eliminated. That is how rewards should work. Of course, you will always be adding rewards to teach new skills and behaviors as they grow, but those rewards should remain mostly intangible and a child’s internal motivation should be increasing as they mature.

Lastly, we, as moms, should keep in mind that perfection is never the goal for our children. We should have high expectations for our children, but should recognize that they are human (just like us) and will fail at times (just like us.) We should “expect the best of [our] kids in all situations. Encourage them to shoot for excellence but not perfectionism.” (9) We must make sure that are children don’t feel pressured to be perfect – because they will never reach perfection and will feel like failures if that’s the goal. Instead we need to focus on what our children are doing right and encourage them to strive for better and their best. Then their motivation will increase and they will take pride in doing their best in every situation.

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