Most but not all children will do the right thing without a reward and this is where positive reinforcement comes into play. Though praise and recognition should be your first instinct, if that doesn’t work, consider the use of positive reinforcement through a rewards system. This type of encouragement system tends to be effective for parents with middle childhood aged kids. For this to be successful, the positive behavior goals must be clear and specific.
Creating a chart that incorporates the desired positive behaviors is a great place to start, almost like a chart of chores you would make for your child. Consider both short-term and long-term goals that you want your child to work toward; so, you may want to create a week-by-week section and even a month-to-month one, too. Each time your child engages in the positive behavior, they can earn a point or star. A reward system with the points or stars should be put into place and as your child reaches a goal, an appropriate small or bigger reward should be given to your child. The goal can be as simple as working towards becoming more polite and small rewards can be used for that, and bigger goals like an outstanding school report card may be more appropriate for a larger reward. The larger rewards should be saved and only used as the points or stars add up enough to being large-reward worthy.
List of Rewards
As an incentive, create a list of rewards with your child as you’ll want them to be meaningful. Deciding on an appropriate number of points it will take to earn each specific reward is important. This reward system should be strictly followed to teach your child that they have to work hard.
To keep your child incentivized, reinforcing the rewards system is important. Frequent reminders and encouragement are a great way to keep them interested and working hard.
Lastly, success is always the goal, but chances are that your child will fall off track at some point. When this happens, light punishments such as a timeout are appropriate and will still keep your child encouraged to keep working toward a goal. Eventually, this program should teach your child to internalize their behaviors and the reward system will gradually be forgotten about or not needed.