You might wonder if rewards for kids are really a good idea. There are many parents and educators alike who tend to think of rewards as bribes and they are opposed to handing them out to their children. Dr. James Dobson, founder, and former chairman of Focus on the Family, has a lot to say on the topic of rewards for kids.
“It is unfortunate, however, that one of our most effective teaching tools is often rejected because of what I would consider to be a misunderstanding of terms. Our entire society is established on a system of rewards, yet we don’t want to apply them where they are needed most: with young children, ” says Dobson.
He continues, “As adults, we go to work each day and receive a paycheck every other Friday. Getting out of bed each morning and meeting the requirements of a job are thereby rewarded. Medals are given to brave soldiers, plaques are awarded to successful business people, and watches are presented to retiring employees. Rewards make people’s responsible efforts worthwhile.”
“The main reason for the overwhelming success of capitalism,” asserts Dobson, “Is that hard work and personal discipline are rewarded materially. The great weakness of socialism is the absence of reinforcement; why should a person struggle to achieve if there is nothing special to be gained?”
And finally, “This system is a destroyer of motivation, yet some parents seem to feel it is the only way to approach children. They expect little Marvin to carry responsibility simply because it is noble for him to do so. They want him to work and learn and sweat for the sheer joy of personal accomplishment. He isn’t going to buy it!”
We definitely agree with Dr. Dobson. We would much rather offer rewards to our children than to have to argue, plead, or punish them. Children need to learn how to behave appropriately, and a positive rewards system can help you in their training.
See below for some great rewards for kids!
Student Incentive Ideas for Younger Children:
- Have a rewards basket that they get to choose from when they do an assignment well.
- Give them lots of praise.
- Stickers are always a treat.
- Write their percentage on the top of the page. Having a large 100% at the top of their paper is very motivating.
- Throw them a circus peanut and have them try to catch it in their mouth.
- Let them earn a trophy, plaque, ribbon or certificate.
- Take a trip to a video store or movie theater.
- Take a trip to a zoo, aquarium, or museum.
- Give them a set of flashcards printed from a computer.
- Receive a ‘mystery pack’ (gift-wrapped items such as a notepad, folder, puzzle, baseball cards, etc.)
- Receive a plant, seeds and a pot for growing
- Earn an item such as a frisbee, hula hoop, jump rope, paddle ball or sidewalk chalk, which promote physical activity
- Take a trip to the treasure box (non-food items such as water bottles, stickers, key chains, temporary tattoos, yo-yo’s, bubbles, spider rings, charms and pencil toppers)
- Receive art supplies, coloring books, glitter, bookmarks, rulers, stencils, stamps, pens, pencils, erasers and other school supplies
- Watch a video
- Read outdoors
- Teach the class
- Get extra art time
- Have more outside play time that day
- Receive verbal praise in front of brothers and sisters
- Enjoy class outdoors
- Throw them a party
- Play a computer game
- Go on a walking field trip
- Listen to music while working
- Play a favorite game or puzzle
- Eat lunch outdoors
- Dance to favorite music in the classroom
- Earn play money to be used for privileges
- Listen with a headset to a book on audiotape
- Go to the library to select a book to read
- Allow your child to have a few friends over after school to play sports or watch a video.
- Invite a few of their friends to a sleepover.
- Let the child help plan a special outing.
- Read a bedtime story of your child’s choice.
- Have a family game night, and let the child choose the game(s).
- Allow the child to pick a movie that the family will watch together or an outdoor sport that the family will play together.
- Keep a box of special toys, computer games or art supplies that can only be used on special occasions.
Student Incentive Ideas for Older Children:
- Buying a tape or CD
- Camping out
- Computer time
- Driving the car on a family trip
- Finding a part-time job
- Getting a chance to earn money
- Getting a driver’s license
- Getting to sleep in late on the weekend
- Getting a special haircut or hairstyle
- Getting to stay out late
- Getting to use the family camera
- Going bowling, skating, etc. with friends
- Going horseback riding
- Going shopping with friends
- Going to a concert with friends
- Going to Disneyland or some other amusement park
- Going to summer camp
- Going to the library
- Going to the movies with friends
- Having a date during the week
- Having car privileges
- Having dating privileges
- Having friends over
- Having their own checking account
- Inviting a friend to eat out
- Making a trip alone
- Participating in activities with friends
- Playing the stereo
- Receiving a magazine subscription
- Redecorating their own room
- Selecting something special for dinner
- Selecting TV programs
- Skating or bowling with friends
- Staying up late
- Staying overnight with friends
- Taking dancing or music lessons
- Talking additional time on the telephone
- Taking time off from chores
Try offering some of these rewards for kids in your home, and watch their attitudes and behavior improve. We firmly believe that these student incentive ideas can have a positive impact on your next homeschooling year.
Question: Do you offer rewards to your kids? Are your children intrinsically motivated to help out or have you had to find ways to give them external motivation? Please leave a comment below.