30 reward ideas for children to encourage good behaviour

Last updated: 02-11-2021

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30 reward ideas for children to encourage good behaviour

Are you looking for reward ideas to encourage your child to read more, pick their clothes up off the floor, engage more enthusiastically with home learning or up their behaviour game in general? I am a big believer in using rewards to motivate and recognise children’s progress in whatever area it might be.

At time of writing, children at home during school closures need rewards more than ever. Afterall, schools rely heavily on reward systems to motivate and recognise their children so why shouldn’t we? But whether we are stuck in the middle of a pandemic, or back to life as normal one day – either way, rewards are brilliant ways to motivate and inspire your children to be the best version of themselves they can be.

With that said, I wanted to share this list of 30 reward ideas for children which we use in our household to keep things ticking along. All children love receiving a reward for whatever goal it is you have in mind, so keep these in your back pocket to use…and no it’s not bribery!

But before we do that, let’s break down the case for using rewards and how to use them to motivate children using different reward ideas.

Here Karen Reidy Head of Wellbeing at Minerva’s Virtual Academy School (one of the UK’s few online independent schools) puts outines the case for using rewards:

Rewarding children with praise and encouragement is a great and proven way to boost motivation and improve behaviour – and there are several reasons behind this.  

If your child is playing up, rewarding them is probably the furthest from your mind at that point, but using positive reinforcement in this scenario can be very effective – i.e. focusing on the positive behaviour rather than the negative. 

If you think about it, adults are no different – we all benefit from reward, support and praise at work and children are the same.  They need to see active encouragement for working hard or demonstrating good behaviour. 

Rewarding a child doesn’t have to mean buying expensive gifts or giving physical treats either (many would argue this is not sustainable long term), it might even just be giving a child a clap for a job well done, a high five, a cuddle or allowing them to stay up 30 minutes later that evening as a special reward. 

When considering reward ideas, choose something you know they will enjoy and look forward to, this can also be a great motivator as the week goes on.

There are many different ways to reward, even the act of simply telling another adult in the house about how well your child has done that day (in earshot of them), can really lift a child’s mood and self-esteem. 

Choosing when to reward or praise your child is also not about seeking perfection (no one is perfect). Even if they have done marginally better than the day before, make sure they know you recognise that fact – it will encourage them to continue to mirror that behaviour and impress you if they know it is being noticed.

There are two types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic, the latter is the bit that comes from ‘around’ or ‘outside’ the learning, such as getting top marks in a test or getting a reward or treat for doing well at something (a popular choice for parents). 

Intrinsic motivation is that feeling of being excited by what you are doing simply because you love the subject – so you want to learn more and spend time getting better at it because it makes you feel good. 

Expert Carl Rinne, suggests that we try to activate the intrinsic motivation in our children by using a bit of extrinsic (such as rewards and treats) but it is important not to overdo this kind of motivation. 

As a parent you need to mix it up a bit, so the reward is more about the feeling of finishing a book or doing well in a spelling test, rather than promising an incentive at the end of it.  Giving the odd treat or gift is of course fine, but you do need to strike a balance so that good behaviour isn’t just linked with ‘getting something’ at the end of it.

Essentially, rewarding a child is all about shifting the way they value themselves.  Our children take a lot of what we say on board (whether we believe it or not!). So when you are praising your child or rewarding them, emphasise the reasons why and highlight the more sustainable and self-reliant aspects i.e. ‘You played really well and fairly in that game and you were a great sport’ rather than ‘well done you won!’  This shows them more about how and why they are learning – as opposed to the act of simply winning.

Do you use rewards to motivate your children? Have you tried any of these reward ideas with your children? If you have any more ideas why not add them in a comment below?

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