Rewarding Children without food

Last week I created a blog post about the numerous parents, coaches and friends that reward our children with “food”.  As stated in that posting, it’s become so ingrained in our society that food is often the best way to celebrate major and minor accomplishments. that people often find themselves unconsciously “rewarding” themselves by emotionally eating. I also stated that it’s one of the worse ways, in my opinion, to reward a child.  And in a society with a large portion of overweight children and adults–if anything we need to figure out ways to STOP incorporating food–in our lives–more than we incorporate other “fulfilling” activities and rewards.  So I’ve provided a brief list of possible ways you can reward your child, without resorting to food.

Chart Systems. If you have children between 7 and 10, I recommend investing in a chart system in order to find some creative fun ways to reward your child. What do I mean? Create a Chart, and post it on the wall in the hallway next to the bedrooms or on the Fridge.  The chart should include:  a star-point system(which is completely up to you),  rows of specific or “model” activities/behaviors that warrant rewards, columns with your children’s names,  and star stickers which are placed on the chart whenever a model behavior is performed. For instance “cleaning up the room” could be the header of one row, the next row could be “good grades on homework”, the following row could be “scored a goal at the soccer game” and so on.  In each column you’ll have each child’s name(or if one child just one column with the child’s name). Every time your child does something that is “good” or worthy of a reward, put star-stickers next to that event within that particular row–under that child’s name.  You then implement a reward for a certain amount of star stickers that are placed under the child’s name. You can do it two ways: you can have so that once the child has a certain amount of stars under their name(10 stars for instance)  they get a reward  OR each activity warrants a different amount of stars (example an A on a paper is 3 stars, cleaning up the room 1 star).   The number of stars the child has will lead to a certain reward. For instance a Barbie doll may equal 20 stars, whereas a whistle equals 1 star.  You can buy toys from the dollar store, or from Wal-Mart to keep it inexpensive. The “point system” is a GREAT way to motivate kids to KEEP doing good, as well as a great way to show the child that certain behaviors mean more compensation.

The magic box. If your child is between 4 and 7, the chart may be too complex. I recommend heading over to Wal-Mart, or the Dollar Store and buying a variety of toys. Then buying a toy chest and pouring those toys into the chest.  Every time your child does something “good” or something that typically warrants a reward the child takes a trip to the magic box and pick out his/her favorite toy. The catch is they ONLY get to pick ONE toy. You can really get creative by investing in two magic boxes. One magic box that is used when your child improves upon their previously “bad” behaviors(tantrums, lying, not sharing etc), and another  box when the child does nice gestures (cleaning up without being told, getting a good grade in school, etc).

Favorite hobby or event. If your child is between 10 and 14 I recommend that a parent rewards that child by allowing the child to participate in the child’s favorite hobby or favorite “event”, whenever the child makes a worthy accomplishment. For instance if your child loves video games, then when the child comes home with all A’s take them to their favorite Arcade. Or if your daughter loves music, when she cleans up her room consistently, then take her to a local  “free” concert with one of her friends.

Bonus. If your child is between the ages of 15 to 18 then I recommend using a “bonus” system whenever the child does something “good”. For instance if your child’s curfew is typically 12:00 AM on a school night then one night extend it by two hours–once your child makes a worthy accomplishment. Or if your child has a prepaid phone buy your child extra minute when he/she does something worthy of an award.  Most parents have a few bendable rules (curfew, dating, friends, car privileges) that can be “bent” in a favorable direction when that child makes an accomplishment.

I hope this helps!

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