Suggestions for parents when learning the skill of Positive Rewards

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Keep expectations realistic. When a child does something well (especially if it’s the first time doing the correct behavior), reward them with something appropriately sized to their progress, but don’t guarantee they will be rewarded every time.

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Start by rewarding one or two positive behaviors you want to see more of. It’s hard to be consistent when we try to tackle too many issues at once.

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When you start rewarding a behavior, reward it frequently and then gradually decrease it as you start to work on developing other strengths in your child. This is the concept that keeps us from rewarding toilet-trained high schoolers. They moved past that long ago and are on to other challenges.

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Make sure the reward is something you can give. If parents can’t follow through with rewards, it damages your relationship. The child learns there is no benefit in behaving well and you can lose trust.

Remember that rewards don’t need to cost money or revolve around food. Some of the best rewards are high fives, eye contact, choosing a game to play together, and other free things.

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Don’t give up if it doesn’t come quickly. You’re not going to get the hang of giving Effective Positive Rewards overnight. It may take a week, a month, or even longer, but it will get easier over time if you’re consistent.

The same reward may not work for every child as every child has different things they value. It’s okay to give children different rewards for the same positive behavior.

Give yourself some slack. It may take some time for giving effective rewards to feel natural. Praise yourself for the progress you are making, no matter how small!

When a Positive Reward is no longer working, switch it up using the five components of effective rewards.