Imaginative Ways to Reward Kids

We all do things for rewards. We work for money, praise, approval, even self-satisfaction. Kids are no different, except that they need more concrete types of rewards than adults.

Rewards are not a substitute for praise. We parents and teachers must always tell our children and students they’re doing a good, they’re improving and we care about them, because positive reinforcement works a lot better than negative reinforcement. Too many times we notice when they’re misbehaving, or not doing their work, or getting into trouble. Instead, we need to “catch them being good,” and reward that behavior with positive statements and fun incentives.

Here are some ways to help you “catch them being good” and ways to reward them.

When to reward kids:

  1. When they exhibit good behavior, such as being quiet in class.
  2. When they accomplish something, like a book report.
  3. When they learn a new skill, such as playing baseball.
  4. When they do their chores, like cleaning their room.
  5. When they stop a bad habit, such as biting their nails.
  6. When they help others, without being asked.
  7. When they try something new, by taking a risk.
  8. When they finish a task, instead of leaving it half done.
  9. When they show initiative, and just “do it.”
  10. When you simply want to say, “I care about you!”

How to reward kids:

  1. Set your goals together and make sure the expectations are reasonable.
  2. Review your goals and check to see that they’re clearly understood.
  3. Make a fun, colorful chart to note the progress of the goal.
  4. Include a theme for the chart to match the goal, such as “Read 25 Books.”
  5. Have your child decorate or embellish the chart to personalize it.
  6. Break the task down into manageable steps, such as “Read 3 pages,” “Read a chapter,” etc.
  7. Let your child use cool stickers and stampers for marking off accomplishments.
  8. Offer frequent smaller rewards with larger goals at the end of the task.
  9. Allow for setbacks and continue to encourage your child’s efforts.
  10. Share your praise along with the rewards.

What to use as rewards:

Stickers to collect in a sticker book

  1. Collection pieces, such as stampers for a stamper collection
  2. Small, inexpensive toys
  3. Charms for a bracelet or necklace
  4. Beads for jewelry making
  5. Medals or ribbons
  6. Certificates
  7. Engraved or lettered trophies
  8. Mugs or toys imprinted with “Great job!”
  9. Banners that say “Congratulations!”
  10. Gift bags with surprises inside
  11. Fun school supplies
  12. Embellishments for a journal, notebook, lunch box, or pillowcase.
  13. Do it yourself craft kits