Recently there has been much speculation on the topic of the effectiveness of rewarding children in school environments with treats and awards. Surprisingly, some researchers now believe that rewarding kids for good behavior and other small classroom tasks isn’t the best way to encourage children.
Some research shows that giving kids small rewards to motivate them can become habitual and perhaps even lose importance in a child’s eyes. Children may come to expect rewards for duties that are expected of them such as doing their homework, paying attention or coming to class prepared. Often kids may think that since other children are being rewarded for these things, it must mean they are a favorite or the same is not expected of them.
It is important to set a bar for kids in classrooms and clearly distinguish from what is expected of them and what going above and beyond means. While rewards and recognition may have different effects among children and adults, one if the most important and valued benefits of being acknowledged is the feeling of achievement and the desire to work towards more.
In the classroom, it is important to establish that hard work and that extra effort can and will be recognized in time.
Recognizing children for their hard work at the end of a year with rewards such as a party can give them something to want to work toward in order to reap the prize at the end. In turn, working long-term toward a bigger prize can get children into the habit of remaining focused and working hard, even when there isn’t a sticker or candy awaiting them in the next few hours.
Plaques can be also be a great way to reward children as their permanence can mean a great deal to a child who is normally accustomed to receiving small and temporary incentives. An award plaque can be something they feel incredibly proud of and excited to share with family and friends. For other children, seeing this type of recognition and approval from adults can inspire them to want to achieve that and beyond.
Recognizing a child’s efforts can mean the world to them and, above all, it is important to help reinforce these values and behaviors in them. Whether they have received a reward or not, children seek approval and that is the best way to help them reach for even greater achievements