Mom Tip Monday: Rewards vs. Encouragement

by Heligirl on April 11, 2011

in Daily Ramblings,Mom Tip Monday,Parenting Articles

Today I’m handing the reigns over to Amy McCready of Positive Parenting Solutions. She ran the webinar I hosted last week and I get her regular e-mail newsletters that keep me on track with positive discipline. This one is a particularly touchy subject and when I got her advice, I asked her if I could please pass it along. Take it away, Amy:

A great question came up in our Free Webinar this week that I want to share.

“Should we continue to reward positive behavior once they become expected behaviors?”

I frequently hear this question from parents and it has a two-part answer.

Answer: Part 1

The first part of the answer is that I encourage you to stop using rewards as a way to motivate behavior. Using rewards (stickers, candy, money, treats) for positive behaviors creates a ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude.”

Research shows that using rewards actually decreases the child’s interest in continuing that behavior. (This is covered in much greater detail in our online parenting course.)

Instead of using rewards – use encouragement.

Encouragement motivates children from the “inside” and helps them feel capable and empowered. Replace rewards with encouraging statements like”¦ “Wow, you are really growing up,” “You become more and more independent every day,” “You must feel proud of how much you can do for yourself now,” “It must make you feel good that you worked so hard on”¦”, etc.

These types of encouraging statements create and sustain internal motivation. With external rewards – the motivation for the behavior stops as soon as the reward goes away. Again – fostering the ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude.

Answer: Part 2

In the second part of the question she asked what about when the behavior becomes expected, is encouragement still required? The answer is yes. Even when behaviors are expected or routine everyone wants to be appreciated and encouraged.

Use statements like “I really appreciate how much you do to help the family,” “When you do _____ that’s one job that I don’t have to do,” “I really feel like we’re a TEAM the way we all work together.”

These encouraging statements reinforce your child’s sense of personal power and encourage the behaviors to continue.

One other thing. As with all of the principles in our course, these lessons about encouragement also apply to other important relationships in your life. Take time to appreciate and encourage the routine or expected jobs performed by your spouse or co-workers on a daily/weekly basis. Everyone wants to feel appreciated and know that their contributions make a difference to others.

I hope that information was of some use. I talked about a few alternatives to rewards here last year and I know when push comes to shove, I need to be reminded to stay away from that tempting trick we use to get kids to do what we want – rewards. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Have you seen what Amy is talking about in your family, be it a decrease in motivation because of rewards or a success in motivating without rewards?

{ 1 comment }

Twitter: wicwoes
April 11, 2011 at 5:07 am

I think external rewards are fine. I like that my husband gets paid to do his job. I’m glad that he likes his job, but the money is nice too. I’d venture to say that most people who like their jobs would go out and find a new job if the external reward suddenly stopped. So rather than not give external rewards to our kids, we just need to balance encouragement, rewards, and consequences so that they get a healthy picture of what to expect when they’re older.
Lynn recently posted: Soda has NOTHING to do with WIC!

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