Rewards are a great way to encourage your child to behave well and reinforce house rules positively.
“First one to put away toys and clean the room gets to pick a bedtime story”. Small rewards steer young ones in the right direction.
As your four-year-old child seeks more independence and tests his/her limits, it is normal to throw some tantrums and behaviour misbehave. However, it is also the right time to shape their behaviour, discipline them and eventually make them feel good for practicing expected behaviour and manners.
But how do you motivate your child to behave in an expected manner?
Consider a reward chart.
It is simple, yet effective. Use a sticker to mark any good behaviour on the chart, giving it positive attention. If your child reaches the set target of stickers, he/she gets to pick a reward.
Remember, define house rules and set the expectations for your child clearly. Four-year-olds have limited attention spans and clear expectations help them set and reach goals easily. Children feel more motivated when they get immediate feedback and incentives.
Choose thoughtful rewards
Preschoolers should not be rewarded with materialistic toys or gifts every time they behave well. Use this opportunity to spend some fun time together and create memories. Save expensive gifts for special occasions. A special date or a favorite food is all it takes to be motivated at that age. You can practice more ideas like –
- Trip to the park
- A bedtime story
- Play-date with friends
- Playing games together
- Going out for ice cream
- Trip to the zoo
- Movie outing
- Staying up an extra hour
- Baking cupcakes or cookies together
Appreciation and Praise
Sometimes a pat on the back or a smile is just enough. Keeping the rewards real and appropriate to the behaviour is important. While acknowledging little acts with words like ‘Good job!” will motivate them, over-doing and replacing every single act with reward can easily spoil them.
Don’t confuse rewards with bribes
Rewards are incentives given for previously defined expectations and shape good behaviour in the long run. In contrast, bribes are offered when you are facing a behavioural crisis with your child and need them to behave immediately. Bribing puts your child in a position of power, where they are able to negotiate for something in return of good behaviour. Steer clear of that territory as it will do more harm than good.
Set clear goals
Your ultimate goal should be self-discipline where the child knows what good behaviour is and practices it without looking for a real reward. Use good judgment to determine when to stop using the reward system.
The goal is to give your child cues to direct him/her towards desirable behaviour. The reward system is a visual, interactive and fun way to weed out negative and encourage good behaviour.