When Rewards Become Expected -What Are You Teaching?


This is a common question that we get from parents.

“Should We Continue to REWARD Positive Behavior Once that Behavior becomes “expected?”

This is not an all-in-one answer.

This is the first part of your answer:

Get rid of the rewards! I urge you to STOP USING AWARDS to motivate your behavior. Truly.

The use of rewards such as stickers, candy, cash, or treats to reward positive behavior creates a “what’s in It for Me” attitude.

What should I do now?

Here is an idea: Instead of using external REWARDS, use ENCOURAGEMENT instead!

What is the difference? The external rewards will create a dependency on the prize, which is why the child will continue to do the behavior. You’ll need to constantly dangle the newest and best carrot as a parent to keep things going.

Encouragement helps children feel confident and capable.

Use this conversation:

Wow, you are becoming more independent each day!

You’re growing up so fast and showing us what you can do on your own.

You’ve done a great job!

Alfie Kohn’s research and that of others show that conversations focusing on effort, improvements, and progress towards a specific goal create and sustain INTERNAL Motivation. Long-term growth. Change for the better.

This is opposed to external rewards, which show categorically that the Motivation for a behavior disappears when the tip is removed.

Part 2 of the question…


Answer: “YES !!!!!! !”

Everyone wants to be appreciated and encouraged, even when their behavior is “expected” or routine. Use statements like:

Your generosity to the family is greatly appreciated.

I’m not required to do _____ when you do it.

It’s great to see how everyone works together.

These words are magical.

These rewards will help your child to continue with positive behaviors or actions. They also help your child feel connected to you and empowered.

Everyone wants to be appreciated. Encouragement is important for everyone – children, partners, family, and friends. Don’t be afraid to use it. For example, we can teach our children a valuable lesson.

Have you ever struggled to get your children to do their homework or chores without resorting to bribes or threats?

This will be your best hour of the month!

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