While working with parents to teach children new skills, I often employ incentives. Incentives can be extremely helpful to get kids motivated to learn difficult skills that don’t come naturally to them. Often learning new and important skills can be uncomfortable and even stressful for children. Allowing them to celebrate their successes with small privileges or rewards can maximize learning and boost confidence. These rewards don’t need to be expensive store bought “things”. In fact, I encourage parents to steer clear of those. Instead, they should reflect what your child values and when possible should infuse humor, family connection, and choice. This way not only are you incentivizing your child, but you are also enhancing your relationship. Here are 15 of my favorite rewards that my families and I have used over the years. Thank you to all of the Moms, Dads, and kids who helped come up with many of these ideas.
“Breakfast for dinner” pass
Pajama day for the family
Nighttime flashlight tag game
Mom and Dad do your chores for a day
“Choose the family movie” pass
“No vegetables today” pass
Sleep over in parents’/siblings’ room
Camp out in the back yard
“Dinner of your choice” pass
Guys’ Day Out or Girls’ Day Out (with Dad or Mom)
Dessert before dinner
“Choose the family outing” pass
Mini road trip with destination of the child’s choice
“Choose the restaurant” pass
Super wacky sensory fun activities (stay tuned for a future blog about incredible sensory activities)
Play around with some of these incentives while teaching your children new and challenging skills, or get creative and invent your own! Have fun!
A lot of parents worry about “ruining” their children’s intrinsic motivation by using rewards. Check out this great article that explores research behind the use of incentives and why they are great tools for parents.