The Ultimate Guide To Rewarding And Praising Your Kids For Good Behaviour

Some parents don’t realize that there’s a right and a wrong way to reward and praise kids for good behaviour. In some cases, rewarding them can seem like bribery and actually teach them a few things about how to play you to get what they want. They may even develop unrealistic expectations about what to expect when they grow up from school, work, and so on. That’s why knowing how to reward your kids for good behaviour properly is a must. Here’s the ultimate guide to help you – with a few tips on dealing with bad behaviour thrown in too!


Too Many Rewards Can Teach Children To Seek Approval, Rather Than Do What They Love

The thing with rewarding your children for every good bit of behaviour that they show, is that they will eventually do things solely to seek your approval. They won’t be doing things that they really love, or because it feels good to them. Ultimately, that’s what you want your kids to learn to do. You want them to learn to do things simply because it feels good to do so, whether that’s sharing their toys or doing what you ask them to do. You don’t want them to lose touch with the things they like to do, as this can make it difficult for them when they grow up. Many of us have been brought up the opposite way. These days, we know far more about why kids behave the way they do, so make sure you don’t use rewards as a way to show your kids they’ve done a good job all the time.

Help Them To Self Evaluate

Helping your kids to self evaluate is a great thing to teach them. Let’s say they’ve drawn a picture. Many parent’s natural reaction would be to tell their kids that they’ve done a good job, or that they are talented. These statements may seem innocent enough, but it can mean your kids lose the ability to self evaluate. Instead, ask them what they think of the picture they’ve created, and how they felt when they were drawing it. If they are happy with it, that’s all that matters, right? Helping them to evaluate their own work eliminates the need for outside praise, and stops them from becoming ‘pleasers’. They’ll be much better at doing things simply because they enjoy it.

Be Really Careful With The Words And Phrases You Use

This follows on from the last point. You must be careful with the words and phrases you use. If your child is learning to ride a bike, it’s normal to most parents to tell them to keep going until they get the hang of it, or to keep trying, or that they’re nearly there. This is essentially saying to your kids, ‘you’re not good enough yet’. Make sure you’re really careful with the words and phrases you use, so that they don’t feel like they need to be ‘better’ or that they need to keep trying to get approval. They should do something because they like it and want to do it.

Use ‘I’ Statements Instead Of Labelling Your Child

If your child is learning to play the piano, you’re probably immensely proud of them. You want to tell them that they are so talented, and that they will be the next Mozart. However, you should try using ‘I’ statements instead of labelling your child. For example, rather than saying they are the next Mozart, tell them that the piece they just played made you happy. Talk about what you liked about what they did specifically, and how it made you feel. You could say, ‘I love how you made that song your own’ for example, or anything that includes your own feelings and thoughts into the equation. This will resonate with them much more than simply saying they are talented. By telling your children they are talented (even if you think they are), this can mean they give up on anything that doesn’t come easily to them, or something they have to work hard at. You want them to keep on trying things because they like it and it feels good. These statements will reward them so much more later on in life.

Comment On The Behaviour

Comment on your child’s specific behaviour, rather than giving out a general statement. This can work well for both good/bad behaviour. Let’s say they are sharing toys nicely with their friend or sibling. You could say, ‘I love how you share your toys with your sister, it made her happy and it makes me happy too’. Don’t simply say, ‘you’re such a good boy!’. If they are making a mess by throwing their toys all around the room, don’t just say ‘you’re being really naughty, stop it!’. Instead, say, ‘please don’t throw your toys around the room. It makes a mess and it makes me sad’. Commenting on their specific behaviour will have a much bigger impact on them in the long run.


Get To The Root Of The Problem

If your child is misbehaving one day, there’s usually a reason for it. Try to get to the root of the problem. It may be that they are tired or hungry, or that they are feeling jealous of their sibling for some reason. A child isn’t usually naughty without a reason, although they may not know it themselves. Consider asking them why they are unhappy.  

Don’t Make Such A Big Deal Out Of Their ‘Bad’ Behaviour

All children misbehave at some point, so don’t make such a big deal out of their ‘bad’ behaviour. See it as part of their development, and a learning curve for them. This is where you can teach them better habits.

Don’t Make Empty Threats

If your child is really misbehaving no matter what you say to them, it’s important that you don’t make empty threats. For instance, if you tell them they’re going to go on the naughty step if they carry on, and they carry on, put them on the naughty step. If you don’t follow up with the things you say, they’ll know they can keep on pushing you and pushing you until you snap. Following through with the things you say is the only way they’ll take you seriously.


Ask Them About Their Inner Experiences

Asking your children about their inner experiences is a great way to get them in touch with their emotions, and it’ll help the two of you to bond so much better. Ask them how they feel they did with a certain activity/subject. Ask them what they think and feel when it comes to just about anything. This should get them into the habit of doing things that feel good to them, as well as paying attention to their inner world. It’ll help them become more self aware as they grow up.

Create A Reward Chart

If you do want to reward your children, a reward chart is a nice way to do it. You can give stickers for good behaviour, and then when they get X amount of stickers, you can reward them. You could treat them to a toy from somewhere like The Toy Shelf, or you could plan a fun family day out! Making memories and experiences is a really powerful way to reward your children.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

If you’ve made mistakes in the past, don’t beat yourself up. We’re all doing our best! Simply do your best with the information here and you can have peace of mind that your children will grow into happy, emotionally healthy adults.


The IE Mommy

The IE Mommy

I am a stay at home mom of three; ages 7, 6 and 1! I love doing product reviews and finding the best things to use for my family. Reading and writing have always been my passions so this allows me to incorporate them with the things that mean the most to me!
The IE Mommy
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