It’s a tale as old as time – your child has an exam coming up and you promise to get them something nice if they do well. Whether you promise money, toys, or even a party, it’s easy to assume that rewards like these will help your child thrive. But, are they actually doing the good that you’re hoping they will?
While no one’s saying that you should withhold treats, it is fundamental to consider how you approach them. After all, you don’t want your child to rely on an incentive for learning. Rather, you need to think about the healthiest possible options for offering positive rewards that don’t get in the way. Here, we’re going to consider what exactly those should look like.
Avoid Rewarding Individual Test Grades
We hate to be stuck in the mud, but the main thing to focus on here is whether a reward is set to detract from learning itself. After all, if kids know that you’ll throw them an amazing sleepover party or increase their allowance after a good grade, they might cram information and then forget it as soon as they get what they want. And, that’s not going to teach them anything.
To ensure genuine results, you may instead be best off keeping these rewards for longer-term schooling achievements, such as ongoing positive term reports, or specific positive feedback from a teacher. Even here, you don’t want to create bad cycles, so try to limit rewards to particularly notable achievements where possible.
Surprise Rather Than Incentivize
We get the temptation to use rewards as a learning incentive, but this is rarely a good idea. Remember, your child is far less likely to embrace slow and lasting learning processes if they’re focused on the prize.
Rather, it’s worth keeping rewards as surprises after positive behavior has occurred. This way, you know that your child did well for the sake of that achievement in itself. Yet, the addition of a reward after the fact enhances the chances of repeat behavior in the future.
Make Learning a Reward In Itself
Ultimately, whether you use outside incentives or not, you also need to work on teaching your children the true value (and reward) of learning for learning’s sake. Far from just throwing toys at the issue, work hard to imbibe a sense of pride in your children for the knowledge they gain.
There are a few ways to do this, including the promise of fun learning trips to interactive museums, etc., or home-made awards ceremonies. What’s more, making your children aware of the careers and opportunities that their knowledge opens up for them can prove invaluable. This way, even when you do provide further incentives, you can rest easy that they’re always putting their heads down because they want to learn above all else.
By all means, reward your children and ensure that they know when you’re proud of them. Just make sure that you aren’t holding back their learning in any way as a result!