There is no rule book for raising children, and we all want our little ones to grow up into healthy, responsible adults. One of the best ways to do that is by understanding and applying incentives. Incentives are a useful tool for motivating adults, and are even more powerful to impressionable minds, but also require a little more nuance. Since we here at Rebounderz provide one of the ultimate incentives for kids, our Edison trampoline park, we would like to provide some tips on incentivizing children with rewards.
Despite some common misconceptions, rewards and bribes are two separate things. A reward works within a system of merit value, a bribe does not (outside of the merit of having money, authority, or power). Rewards can generally be divided into two types: tangible and intangible. Here are some examples of each:
- Tangible Rewards are material items or allowances that can be quantified, be they toys, privileges (video game time, for example), sweets, or whatever else.
- Intangible Rewards are any rewards that can’t be quantified, such as acknowledgement and respect from an authority figure (in this case, the parent).
To best incentivize your children, use both tangible and intangible rewards. However, in regards to intangible rewards, it’s important that the acknowledgement or complement be sincere, as even at a young age children can tell the difference between an actual compliment and a forced one.
Give Your Child A Say
Socially, at least in practice, we tend to treat children like children until they’re 18, when they magically become a responsible adult. In reality, becoming an adult is a gradual, step by step process. If children aren’t exposed to responsibility, and consequences regarding that responsibility, then they can have a hard time transitioning into adulthood when traditional authority structures regulating behavior are taken away. With small children, responsibilities should obviously be small, but that doesn’t mean they should be avoided. In fact, they can also double as a reward (children idolize grown ups, and often want to emulate them). In practice, this can be as simple as letting your child choose what’s for dinner one night a week, provided they complete all their homework assignments.
Explain Your Reasoning
This is often a tough one for parents. There’s a point in every parents life where the frustration becomes too much, and “because I said so” is all we can muster up. That’s perfectly normal, and an absolute necessity in small doses. However, as caretaker’s of our children’s growth, relying on authority too often can stunt critical thinking skills or create behavioral problems. Adults are responsible for themselves, not their authorities. So when training children to become adults, it’s important to be able to explain to the best of your ability WHY it’s important to do what you ask. If this seems like an impossible task, don’t worry, it is. Even as adults, many of us don’t know why we do what we do. That’s okay, as even making the attempt can communicate to your child the importance of the task you’re asking.
Using rewards as incentives means nothing if they’re not taken away when requirements aren’t met. As parents, our job is to prepare children for a world that does not pull punches in regards to negative consequences. Get started early by not giving in to the puppy dog eyes, whining, or tantrums. Otherwise, the incentive is being used FOR the puppy dog eyes, whining, and tantrums, and nobody wants that!
Here at Rebounderz, we love providing a fun, action filled environment for your kids to enjoy. Our Edison trampoline park is full of fun activities that can build on your children’s social skills as well as provide a good outlet for excess energy. Give us a call today to find out more!