How to Create an Effective Reward System at Home

Does your child express groans and moans anytime you ask them to begin their homework? Do you wonder if there’s a better way to get your child to do chores than the constant verbal reminders that leave you frustrated?

Many teachers use reward systems in their classroom communities to shape prosocial learning behaviors and peer interactions. With a few tips, you can set up a similar, effective reward system at home to encourage the completion of various tasks with more motivation, determination, and self-satisfaction. How do reward systems work?

It’s human nature to seek tangible or emotional rewards: Our neurological responses to rewards are so strong that when a behavior is followed by something gratifying, we seek more of what made us feel good by repeating the working pattern.

As children learn where they fit in the world and how to navigate responsibilities and independence, they need tools to connect their choices with outcomes. Developing a positive reinforcement reward system at home that focuses on rewarding desired behaviors can be a powerful tool to shape, replace, or build positive habits.

What are some additional benefits of a reward system?

A sound and consistent reward system can benefit your child in several ways, including:

  • More thoughtful behavior choices
  • A self-esteem boost
  • A sense of responsibility and independence

The benefits can also extend beyond the child to an improved family dynamic.

How can you implement a successful reward system?

Developing a successful at-home reward system will depend on a few different factors. First, consider your child’s age when putting together your reward system. You’ll want to keep realistic expectations and find appropriate rewards for their age.

Second, knowing what motivates your child is essential. The reward they receive must be something they genuinely desire, and it does not have to be a tangible item like a toy. For example, does your child value shared experiences such as going out for ice cream or playing a game with you, or would they enjoy earning blocks of time to play a video game? If you are unsure of what makes your child tick, all you need to do is ask them. They will let you know what will make them happy! Lastly, set your expectations for earning the defined rewards and follow through. Discuss the rewards and consequences with your child, and know that the most potent consequence may simply be withholding the reward (this is why it must be something your child really enjoys). Refrain from bribing your child to success, or you risk rewarding a negative behavior pattern, increasing the likelihood that they’ll wait for you to negotiate for their cooperation the next time. However, adjusting the criteria for earning rewards is okay if you feel you may have set the bar too high.

Here are a few final considerations for an effective reward system:

  • Focus on one behavior or skill at a time. Once your child has mastered one skill, then you can set a new goal behavior.

  • Be patient with your child as they learn and adjust to the system. Rather than dwell on the negative actions they may demonstrate as they are learning, emphasize their positive behaviors with specific praise.

  • Allow your child to have a say in their rewards, as long as they are within reason.

  • Promise what you can deliver.

  • Provide clear, consistent direction and guidance.

Best in Class understands how vital it is for students to demonstrate positive behaviors at home and in the community. With an effective at-home reward system, you’ll help guide your child in the right direction for their social and emotional growth. Contact Best in Class Education Centers today to learn how we can support your child’s positive habits for studying and learning!

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