Each parent at some point or the other has rewarded their child (explicitly or subtly) for doing something good. It might have been out of love or with the intention of promoting the good act. But has it involved any questioning whether rewarding a child is advantageous or disadvantageous in the long run?
Child Psychologists say that children start understanding the concept of rewards as early as at the age of three. Psychologists who are in favor of the idea of Rewards are of the opinion that they help kids understand that privileges must be earned and not taken for granted. According to them Rewards also keep them motivated to do the task at hand. Some Child Psychologists also suggest that to acknowledge and reinforce good ideas even verbal praise or gratitude expression via actions like high-5 can be used. Rewards can be used to introduce good habits by setting realistic goals and appropriate incentives. It is not only about when to reward your child but also what to reward your child. Following are some suggestions of rewards that are appropriate for kids of all ages:
- Badges like scouts that can be worn proudly
- Stars , smileys, pompom balls, special cards highlighting their good work
- High 5s and hugs as positive reinforcements
- Doing activities collectively with family as children crave attention which is not accessible nowadays as mostly both the parents are working
- Books to widen the horizon and encourage reading habit
- Make projects together like a mazes, volcanoes, play fights, fort making etc
- Pick a movie for family movie night or board game for family game night
- Choose their favorite food for dinner
- Cook with parent
- Click photos with camera that prints them instantly
Having said that there are some Psychologists who hold a counter view towards the whole concept. According to them Children in the habit of being constantly rewarded tend not to develop the sense of doing “the right thing”, for example cheating in the exam might seem like a viable option to attain good marks. They are so engrossed in the end result and the resultant reward that they do not enjoy the task at hand. Also if a kid is rewarded for reading books then they might no longer enjoy reading books for fun.
In a Nutshell, Good work reaps good results. Should kids be rewarded for those results? Keeping in mind the pros and cons of the reward system, it is suggested to use it in moderation and avoid using it as the core methodology of parenting. As varied as the kids are so should be the ways of dealing with them because there is no one right answer.