The Parenting Clubhouse Podcast Episode 18: 3 Major Mess-Ups When Using Rewards

behavior podcast rewards Jul 02, 2019

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Hi there and welcome to The Parenting Clubhouse Podcast! 

Today I want to talk about the three major mess-ups that we make when using rewards with our kids. If you want to get the biggest bang out of rewards with your kids, then listen up! 

#1 The size of the reward doesn’t match the difficulty or size of the behavior 

If you worked 40 hours a week and only earned $1 total, would you go back to work the next week? Probably not. The same is true with our kids! They aren’t going to be motivated by a reward that is way too small for a really difficult behavior. 

If we outline for our child to do chores every day like making his bed, taking out the trash, feeding the dog, and cleaning up the dishes after dinner, do you think that he will be motivated everyday by a high-five or extra TV time. I agree; extra TV time is probably a better reward for our child in this situation. 

On the same note, we don’t want to provide an overly extravagant reward for a simple behavior. We don’t want to promise our child a trip to Disney World for pushing in her chair. That’s not realistic. 

It’s really important that the size of the reward matches the size or difficulty of the behavior. If it doesn’t, the reward may not be very motivating for our child. 

#2 We don’t maintain the reward behavior connection

What do I mean by this? Our child should earn a reward for doing a specific behavior, like completing chores, going pee pee on the potty, or having appropriate mealtime behaviors. Our child should not earn a reward for “being good” or for some other reason that is not specific. 

Also, our child should earn a specific reward for completing that behavior. If we allow our child to only have that reward or item when they complete that behavior, then our child will be more motivated to complete the behavior in order to get the reward. If our child has full access to that item throughout the entire day, then he may not do his chores because he knows that he can go play with his iPad in 20 minutes. So, use a specific reward for a specific behavior.

It’s also important to keep in mind that our child cannot lose the reward for a separate inappropriate behavior that is not connected to that reward behavior connection. So, our child shouldn’t lose iPad time for yelling in the house if he earns iPad time for going pee pee on the potty during potty training. We can handle the yelling in a different way. 

#3 Providing the reward inconsistently 

It’s so important that we make sure that we are consistent with providing rewards to our children. 

If our child does X, then we need to provide the reward that we’ve outlined. If our child does not do X, then we also need to NOT provide the reward. 

And if we say that we are going to provide a specific reward, we need to make sure that we have that reward on hand, ready, and available for when our child has earned it. There’s nothing worse that not holding up our end of the deal when our child has held up her end of the deal. 

Don’t let these three mess-ups get the best of you! Follow the advice and use rewards effectively with your child to get the biggest bang out of the reward. If you liked the episode, don’t forget to subscribe, leave a review, and share with your friends!

If you found this information helpful, come check out my free resources at 

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