Overview: Rewards for kids can be controversial; but, we base our entire capitalist system on rewards. Find out why I think we SHOULD offer rewards to our kids!
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 with their training.
See below for some great rewards for kids!
→ Related Content: 15 Ways to Help Your Sons Develop a Motivation to Learn
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 an MP3
- Buying an audio book
- Streaming a movie
- 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.
17 thoughts on “Rewards for Kids – Offer Rewards and Watch their Motivation Soar”
I am thinking I like this idea, especially for my youngest who is most non-stop enthusiastic about life! I saw a system at a school recently where kids had a wall of characters with qualities under them and could earn points… it was cute and positive…
Good idea. Thanks for sharing that, Mairi! 🙂
Nice List! Thanks!
You’re welcome. I’m glad you found it helpful!
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Thanks, I’m glad you found it helpful. I write new blog posts once a week so if you want to be sure you don’t miss any, be sure to sign up for my free newsletter. Take care!
Thank you, my husband and I were just talking about rewards. Should we do them or not do them. This article gives some good food for thought and helps me process howI would like to move forward. Thank you for some great ideas.
You’re welcome, Charity! 🙂
LOVE this post! I’ve always had a tendency to want to reward, but am always discouraged to do it, usually from family who are teachers, fellow homeschoolers, etc. But, you make a really valid point; capitalism vs socialism. Yes, yes, yes!! Why did I never make that connection before? It is so very spot on! Socialism never succeeds, but capitalism dominates. And it is all because of reward! Wow! Great post.
Thanks, Kelly. Yeah, it’s amazing what kinds of ideas we have in our minds and how we don’t often think about how they got there. Teaching stuff to our own kids is a great way for some of these ideas to surface. 🙂
Thanks for this!! My husband and I decided to offer a reward for our 10-year-old son’s decision to have a positive attitude in homeschool. Your article serves as confirmation that we are on the right track.
We use a ticket system. We have a “store” where we stock new toys, his favorites like Transformers or Legos. Each item costs a certain number of tickets (from 15 on up to 30). He earns tickets for various chores or doing great in his school work, special good behavior at home or Sunday School, or his Martial Arts class, helping others etc.
He loves working to save up his tickets to exchange them for something in the “store.”
Great idea!!! Thanks for sharing that with us. 🙂
Thank you! My boy is struggling a little with his motivation for homeschool. I’ve always known he is very rewards driven but I have always felt guilty giving them. You have given me renewed hope!
Awww, I’m so glad to hear that! By the way, your son is not alone. Finding ways to motivate our kids can be a constant battle. Hang in there!
I almost didn’t read this because I feel the reward system is misunderstood. I’ve had to use a reward system for my son since he was a toddler. I printed out calendars with weekly and monthly goals of good behavior with each month’s incentives. He’s now 8 and this behavior modification has really helped him see himself as a good kid despite not being perfect. LOL. Now instead of behavior rewards he’s transitioned into chore rewards. He earns time on a device for completing chores. My oldest daughter, who I didn’t need to use behavior modification, has adapted the chore reward system too. She completes chores for time at the library. This relieves a lot of stress of parenting.
I’m so glad you read the post, Amy. Yes, I believe rewards help to relieve a lot of parenting stress as well. They are a WIN-WIN, really. I’m glad they’ve helped your son to modify his behavior and to have better self-esteem.