Is it OK to give kids a prize for good behaviour, such as a little money for managing to keep it together at Grandma’s or for getting their homework done?
Recognizing good behaviour with a bit of praise or a kind word of encouragement is fine, but I’m finding more and more parents today can easily go overboard. Children of any age should not be rewarded for behaviour that is expected of them. Good behaviour should be considered normal. Keep tangible rewards for real achievements. When parents give rewards all the time, the meaning is lost.
Today, there is far too much praise going on for such small achievements. I was in the supermarket recently and heard a mother constantly telling her daughter how proud she was that she was behaving so well. Positive reinforcement is one thing, but this constant praise was repeated throughout the entire shopping trip! It drove me crazy.
If you lavish such high praise on a child for such a simple expectation, what message are you sending? It will be a rude awakening for children when they start school and the teacher has no reward for lining up in a straight line or walking down the hall quietly. Keep it real. There’s nothing wrong with rewarding a special achievement, but it doesn’t have to be money if that’s not your choice. It could be far simpler, such as a favourite dinner.
Published June 2010