Cory and I needed to focus more on positive behavior so we added the Star System—Children earn 1 to 5 stars for positive behaviors. We had a star chart at home and we wrote stars on their hands when our children earned them while we were away from home. 50 stars earned them a special treat.
This worked great for two weeks!
I thought I had hit the mother-load and found the parenting holy grail! I was so proud of myself.
What I Know Now and Why Rewards Do Work
As soon as Cory and I stopped focusing on dishing out the stars, everyone started migrating back to their old behaviors. Like all parents, we got busy with life and forgot to focus on their positive behaviors, so our children forgot too.
But the kids really liked this system and would keep asking us to start it up again. So when I created Easy As Pie, I decided to include the Star Reward Chart. All of the moms who participated in my test group also had a lot of success with their Reward Charts.
It amazes me how many experts, authors and websites discourage rewards. I also see so many parents who Do Not want to reward their children!
I mean, if you really think about it—everything we do has a reward.
When you take a shower, you are rewarded by being clean. When you eat, you are rewarded by your hunger pains going away and feeling better. When you go to your job, you are exchanging your time in reward for a paycheck. And when you spend that money, you are being rewarded by shelter, food, clothing, etc. And I’m not even going to get into the reward of why you choose to exercise or not exercise.
So why would we not want to reward our children?
I think it’s because parents get rewards and bribery confused. Heck, even my children have gotten confused and I’ve had to explain the difference.
Bribery comes BEFORE the action and IS expected at the end
- “If you behave in the store, I’ll buy you a candy bar.”
- “If you behave today, you’ll earn 5 stars.”
- “Mom, if I’m good today can I earn 5 stars?”
Rewards come AFTER the action and is NOT expected at the end
- “Thank you so much for behaving in the store, and I didn’t even have to ask you to behave. I think I would like to do something nice for you.”
- “Mom, do you think I behaved well enough to earn some stars?”
Some of you may be thinking, “What? Your child just asked for a reward. You can’t ask for a reward.” In my world with four busy, active children, I don’t catch everything. I try—but there’s only one of me and four of them! So I have given them permission to bring their great behavior to my attention.
And if you think about it a bit, how is this any different than approaching your boss and asking for a raise because you’ve created so much value for the company over the last 6 months? You’re asking for a reward. Many sales companies offer spa days or vacations to the person who has the highest sales for the month. Rewards do work.
What About You?
Will you start rewarding your children for positive behavior?