How to Reward Children for Good Decisions
This is the 3rd article in a 6 part series on how to create good decision makers in our kids.
In article #1, we talked about Creating Choices
In article #2 we talked about Providing Clear Guidelines
Today we’ll discuss: Rewarding Your Kids’ Good Decisions.
Sometimes, children do the right thing unintentionally and totally by accident. Other times, they do the right thing by trial and error, as if they are experimenting with their abilities.
Acknowledge good choices
When you see your kid doing the right thing (making a good choice), take a moment and recognize it. Your acknowledgement serves as a great reward to your kid. It can take the form of simple praise: “Good sharing Johnny!”
Why is such acknowledgement important? Because if your kid made a choice and was a little uncertain about whether it was the right thing to do, your much-needed feedback, praise, or reassurance, may help your kid value that choice and repeat that behavior.
And after all, isn’t that what you want? The goal is that your kid not only makes a good choice, but also continues to make such good choices.
Benefits of Rewarding a Behavior
Many behavior specialists and most parents know that when you reward a behavior (and give attention to that behavior), then that behavior increases!
So whether unintentionally, on purpose, or through trial and error, if your kid does make a great decision or does something appropriate (like giving his younger brother a toy), and you reward that action, chances are great that your kid will share a toy with his younger brother again.
Another benefit of rewarding your child’s choices, especially if the kid isn’t actually sure how he made such a good choice, is that it gives you a chance to provide guidance as to how to do that again, all as part of your praise.
For example: My friend’s little girl was only 3 years old when she went over to her friend, who was crying, and sat beside him. As she sat down, one of her toys (a car) fell out of her hand and she chose to ignore it. Her friend stopped crying as he picked up the little car.
I went over to them and told the little girl, “You helped your friend feel good. See? He stopped crying; good job sharing your toy! He’s happy now.” Then I gave her another little toy to play with.
She stared at me a little at first; then she looked over to the car (that she had unintentionally shared). She suddenly started smiling, said “Happy,” and gave her friend another toy!
This is a simple example of how one can reward an accidental good deed with praise, a smile, or a little toy. By labeling what the little girl did, and by showing her how she helped her little friend, I may have helped foster a positive and socially appropriate behavior, the concept of “sharing”, in a 3 year old.
By the way, I had a reason for giving her another toy car when I had gone over to her. I had considered that she might want her car back after she had realized her “unintentional” generosity.
In article #4 will address the subject of Allowing Mistakes and Poor Decisions
Article #5 Children Behaving
This is an excerpt from my book “Create Happy Kids”. You can order your copy by clicking on the “Buy Now” button on the right.
Dr. Sherkat speaks to various groups, hire her for your next parenting workshop, conference or parenting event.