A good way to ensure children do what you’d like them to is to reward them for such behaviors. For instance, you catch your child clearing away their things. Immediately rewarding that behavior will increase the likelihood of it occurring again in the future.
Carolyn Webster-Stratton, creator of The Incredible Years, shares:
- Define the desired behaviour clearly: “Sit quietly and read a few pages of your book” is better than “Turn off the TV and do something else.”
- Don’t make reward programs too complex; choose one or two behaviours to start.
- Choose incentives that are cheap and fun. An extra bedtime story or 10 minutes of playtime can work as well or better than a toy or prize.
- Pair rewards with praise and attention.
- When you see the behaviour you want, reward your child.
- Change or phase out the rewards as the behaviour becomes easier for your child.
- For kids ages four to six, spontaneous, surprise rewards are the best way to celebrate their success. “So if your five-year-old waited quietly until you were off the phone, treat him to a cookie, or some special play time with you, or a story for beginning so patient.
- Six- to 10-year-old often like points or stickers they can trade in for a reward of their choice (subject to your approval, of course).
- Bribing children with the promise of a reward while they are misbehaving is ineffective and counterproductive.
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