Non-Food Rewards

Anne's comment about her teenager receiving candy bars as "way-to go!" prizes in high school reminded me that my kids got candy rewards in school, too. It always bothered me, but I never said anything to the teachers because I was afraid of making waves for my children. And, of course, the kids did love it. So, what's the problem? Every time this happens, the message is reinforced that when the child behaves well and/or does a good job on a paper or test-- bring on the candy!

I do understand where the teachers are coming from, and I have to give them lots credit for the intent. They have one of the toughest jobs and they deal with so many kids to keep challenged and motivated. And candy is universally loved, inexpensive, and an immediate reward. I don't suppose carrots would be a big hit?

As an alternative, one of my kids had a teacher with a treasure box that was filled with an assortment of little prizes--rings, erasers, odds and ends--and the kids got to choose from the box when they earned a reward. I really liked that, though it probably wouldn't go very well in high school. Anne mentioned that some good praise goes a long way, too. Nothing but benefits, there! What else would work in high school?

How are you doing with your own reward system? Listen to yourself this week. If you hear yourself thinking you need an ice cream sundae because you got a big project completed---beware. That's using food as a reward, which is not good for the head or the body.

When you do something that deserves a reward, what are some good choices?
  • reading time
  • gaming time
  • extra time to chat with a friend
  • down load a song or a new CD
  • new book
  • bubble bath
  • new scented candle
  • fresh flowers
  • stickers
It's true. I like to put those metallic brightly colored smiley-face stickers in my day planner when I've exercised, so I can see how many smileys I can accumulate in a week. I exercised, I get a sticker. It's a game, a motivational tool. I realize it's at a rather kindergarten level, but it works for me :)