An import element in parenting is to make sure the desired behavior will not be extinguished, but will remain or even increase. Research has proven that rewarding, also known as reinforcing, is the best technique to make this possible. But how can we do this?
Make sure it is realistic:
Set realistic goals. Try not to set the goals too high, because it is important for your child to have a feeling of success, not failure. Do you find it hard to find out how to set the goals? Discuss this with other people who know your child well.
Tailor for your child:
Make sure the system you came up with, is challenge for your child. Be creative! What might help is a ‘Reward Chart’. This chart will make it visual for your child to see what he/she is working for. For example: every time your child finished his/her daily chores, he or she receive a sticker for their reward chart. At the end of the week, when every day has a sticker, your child can choose an activity for the weekend that he/she likes.
Different kinds of rewards:
Make sure the reward you give your child is fun for him/her. Optionally, you can choose rewards together. Rewards can be materialistic (like a new toy), social (like a hug) or action (like an activity). If the same reinforcer is used too frequently, the impact of it might fade away. Try to maintain the fun and variation.
How to start:
Introduce the system to your child. Try to discuss together how to shape the system, so you can be sure it will work for your child. Be open for his/her suggestions and make sure all rules and conditions are clear for the both of you.
Positivity is the key:
Formulate the goal positive, in terms of concrete desired behavior. Don’t give up when you don’t see results immediately: adapting behavior takes a while. Be patient! Don’t focus on failures, these are not important. If your child ‘fails’ to show to desired behavior, show them you are still supportive and believe in them. Telling your child ‘I’m sure tomorrow you will succeed’, motivates to not give up. It is all about the successes!