When it comes to rewarding grades and behavior there is a fine line that all parents need to walk. You do not want to find yourself slipping into the chasm of bribery, but you do want your child to know when you are proud of them and that there are unexpected benefits to working hard at doing well.
Positive reinforcement is a very important part of learning and development, after all. If your child receives nothing but negative feedback, then their self-esteem may be damaged and they might learn to seek out and respond solely to the negative attention that you are giving them. It is important to reward your child when they make the correct choices, but the key to doing so and successfully sending the message you choose is to do so correctly.
More and more studies are being done that suggest that the time-honored tradition of paying children to achieve good grades is actually harming rather than helping. Though many parents believe that motivating children to perform well with 'wages' will have a positive effect on their grades or behavior, recent findings have suggested otherwise.
These findings state that a child is more likely to lose interest in a task or goal that they are being paid to accomplish than one who attempts the same task or goal simply to accomplish it. Experts suggest that instead of teaching their child to expect payment, which can escalate as the child learns to use the system against the parent, parents instead help them celebrate their hard work and accomplishments.
It is normal to want to praise and reward your child for doing well, but in order to help your child continue achieving, try to restrict yourself to certain rules and behaviors. Let your child know how happy and proud you are as well as how happy and proud they should be about their accomplishments. Share these positive feelings with other friends and family members.
Your child will remember the good feelings and associate them with their success. Don't think that you cannot do something nice for your child when they achieve either. Just try to make it a spontaneous shared experience rather than a wad of cash. Go out to dinner to celebrate. Remember also to make sure that you do not reward every achievement, you do not want to teach your child to expect a reward, just to appreciate one.
Most importantly of all when it comes to rewarding your child's good grades and behavior, is sending the right message. Do not praise your child's intelligence when they succeed, instead focus on their effort. Praise good habits, the ones that lead to good grades and behaviors, rather than the grades and behaviors themselves. Take care to teach your child that you respect their work rather than an arbitrary number or letter.
If you do not, you could find that your child will try to hold on to your praise by restricting themselves from activities and challenges for fear of failing and losing their rewards.
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