Using rewards with children is a widely debated topic. While some believe that rewards are an effective way to motivate children to behave positively (the camp I belong to), some argue that rewards may have negative long-term effects on children’s behaviour.

Arguments in favour of using rewards:

– Rewards can be an effective motivator, especially for children who may not understand the concept of intrinsic motivation or be capable of it (ADHD I’m looking at you!).

– Rewards give children a clear and tangible goal to work towards, which can help build their confidence and self-esteem.

– Rewards can reinforce positive behaviour and strengthen the parent-child relationship.

Arguments against using rewards:

– Rewards may encourage children to focus solely on the reward and not on the behaviour itself.

– Rewards can create an expectation for children that they should always receive something in return for their behaviour, which may not be realistic in the long-term.

– Over-reliance on rewards can lead children to develop a limited sense of motivation, which could make it difficult for them to engage in positive behaviours without external rewards.

I would argue:

– While it is true that rewards can encourage a focus on the reward rather than the behaviour, this is largely dependent on HOW parents (and educators) use rewards.

– It is possible to use rewards as an occasional motivator without creating unrealistic expectations for children.

– If used correctly, rewards can actually help children build their intrinsic motivation by providing a positive experience that they are likely to repeat on their own, without the need for external rewards.

Further considerations:

– Clear, open and honest communication is paramount between adult and child from the onset.

– We live in a Token Economy where people work in return for money.

In conclusion, using rewards with children can be an effective way to encourage positive behaviour, build self-esteem, and reinforce the parent-child relationship. However, it is important to use well designed reward systems and in a consistent and healthy way that does not create unrealistic expectations or lead to over-reliance on external motivators. A reward system is not a standalone solution but used in conjunction with other parenting approaches and a sound knowledge base, results in a fun way for parents and children develop good habits and behaviours that will serve them well throughout their lives.