Four ways to reward a child for good behaviour and performance in school

Last year I attended a local parenting course in Wandsworth to prepare myself for the challenges of bringing up a teenager. We discussed ways to reward a child for good behaviour and/or excellent performance at school.

It is important to motivate children and reward them when they do something right or when they display emotional intelligence through a particularly sympathetic behaviour towards other people. 

Children respond well to rewards and will continue their good behaviour if their actions are reinforced with a positive reaction from their parents or teachers.

Rewards don’t necessarily need to be material things. In fact, the so-called social rewards are often much better to let a child know they are appreciated, especially if they are teenagers, who start to see the value in social rewards, such as quality time with friends or parents. Social rewards are my favourite and do not involve spending money. 

Let’s take a look at four ways to reward a child for good behaviour and performance in school that I have learnt during my parental course. 

Give affection as a reward. A hug, a kiss, a high five, a big smile or even a pat on the back are not only free but immediate. This display of affection helps them develop a much-needed empathy and emotional intelligence. It is also important to accompany the affection with a specific verbal praise of the behaviour (not of the child’s personality). Parent modelling is essential and your child can model their behaviour on yours and learn how to express their feelings and thoughts in a positive way. 

Spend special time together. Children love to spend quality time with their parents, even if they don’t show it much. Ideally a child should have something special to be rewarded for and ‘special time’ should always be in the diary. It could be anything from watching a movie, a bedtime story, a special outing, a favourite meal (although keep in mind that the use of food as a form of material praise is debatable), having a friend for a sleepover party or another favourite activity.

Material rewards. Material items can be used as rewards but you should be careful not to simply give your child toys or video games. Instead, you may go for practical items like school supplies, books or stickers, or even personalised badges that allow them to show off their accomplishment. Depending on the age of a child a small amount of money could also be appropriate. If the child is a teenager, they may be ready for getting their allowance through a bank account.

Rewards chart. Many parents use rewards charts to let their child know how well they are behaving. Good behaviour can be marked with a smiley face or special stickers. Creative children can even create their own chart to pin on the fridge door where everybody can see it. The rewards chart allows your child to judge their own behaviour on a daily basis. 

About Monica Costa

Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums

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