When it comes to incentive methods, we at LuckyKids children’s camp always choose positive methods of encouragement over negative ones. We are always “For” the reward. And yet we do it in an environment of collective communication.
We often point to the actions of one child and reward him, as an example to others in order to spread the good “news” and to encourage and encourage everyone else to follow his example. Perhaps such a method is effective in a family environment when there are 2 or more children in it. In families with 1 child, such practices are difficult to apply.
When we award, we always think about:
- the difference in age and development in children – individual approach
- the circumstances
- the effect on the other members of the team
It may sound strange, but as a language camp, we encourage children to do anything but “good language results.” Because every child who visits the camp improves their language skills, no matter how much they have mastered the current material. This is the form of education in all international language camps.
Things are completely different during school hours and if we want to encourage our child during the school year. There are several important points to consider to choose the right form and content for the promotion.
Incentives are in the “arsenal” of every parent from time immemorial. However, sometimes the award does not achieve the expected result.
When and how rewards and incentives work depends on several aspects, which we will look at here.
Before wondering whether to reward or not, it is good to ask what kind of parents are we? Do we have personal ambitions towards our children? What are our expectations for them? What goals and tasks have we set for ourselves as parents in terms of the development of our children?
Most of us support our children and strive to support their development without imposing our ambitions and goals. So far so good. But this time too is not easy.
Often the child “jumps” from area to area or is unsure of his own abilities. And other times he lacks perseverance. And yes – we all know our children well and see when we need to intervene.
To show a good result is actually part of the child’s own duty not to anyone, but to himself. Therefore, we recommend that each award be seen as a shared joy, and not as a goal to achieve. And how the child will accept the awards depends entirely on us as parents.
Learning is a process of self-improvement and if the child has an interest in developing in a certain area, he will do it with pleasure and joy … even with ease. If the child realizes that a set of knowledge is necessary for the development he is striving for, he will only make an effort to acquire this knowledge, even when it is not in his favorite field.
Language proficiency falls in this column. Any language that the child manages to master can only open up more opportunities for development and more options for success. If you speak a language, you have fewer restrictions on: where to live and work, with whom to communicate, how much to travel?
There are three forms of reward: conditional, planned and impulsive.
- Impulsive rewarding: We are glad that our child got good results and we go to a pastry shop together to get some food. We are with the child and share his joy.
And everything is fine, because the shared success is wonderful. Or, overwhelmed with euphoria, we enter the store and buy him a gift – that’s good again. This is a one-time stimulus, without commitment and without the promise that there will be such a permanent one. As long as this impulsive method does not become the rule, it always gives a positive result.
- Planned rewarding: We decide in advance with what successes what the reward should be and how long the rewarding lasts in the specific area as a duration. We rank by meaning and value. For children who know how to plan and / or pursue goals, this form is very successful.
They know what to expect at every step and it makes them calm and happy. It is very important for us as parents to keep all the commitments – they are clearly written and sealed with an oral contract. It looks like a business deal and it is, but it has added value.
The children see that:
- We keep our word
- We show perseverance
- We respect their work
A similar example will follow in their communication with us and others.
- Conditional reward: if you get a six in English, I will buy you an electronic game (under certain conditions, you will get something you really want). We recommend this format at least or rather we recommend it to be applied in specific (extraordinary)
Example: If we are in the park now and we want to play, we can say – if you run out this alley for 5 minutes, we go directly for ice cream. And then, even if the children run through the alley for 6 minutes, we will still go for ice cream, because in fact the value is not in the achievement, but in the game itself. When we apply, however is this method for the child’s constant commitments (fixed homework, learning, attending activities chosen by the child), the reward can lead to a negative result in the following aspects:
- We do not buy the game (from the first example) at this time, but we decide to impulsively give it as a gift for Christmas or birthday – then our child understands that he can get what he wants in another way – the reward for the specific activity loses value.
- The child understands that we are prone to compromise and can begin to use manipulative approaches to get what he wants.
- The child’s focus shifts – he will achieve a result to get what he wants, but this result will not have a lasting effect.
Several basic types of behavior in children:
- Our child has a “sports spirit” (and there is nothing wrong with that), loves competitions and strives to “win” positions, medals, diplomas – the award has an effect. It is a completely different moment when our child has not won, has not given a good result, and he always likes to be in the first positions.
With these children, it doesn’t matter what kind of reward we apply, because something else is important to them, and the reward is an added bonus. But it’s good to have it.
- When our child likes to work in a calm environment, fails to respond adequately to great stress, needs more time to concentrate and more time to absorb the material … he will never be in ” the top three, ”but it doesn’t want to be there either … at least half of the subjects. For this type of child, it is good to match expectations with his own before rewarding for anything.
- Our child is ambitious, studious, confident, knows what he wants and respectively only successfully plans all his activities. Sometimes there are no prizes left for these children. Often parents get used to their success and forget that they also need encouragement, to hear our approval and … even a “pat on the shoulder”.
- Our child has an interest in specific areas and is not interested in others at all, even when they are part of the general education system. In this case, we can show how this area, which he finds extremely uninteresting, integrates into the area in which he is interested.
And here all forms of rewarding will work in the future. But first we have to go through the process of awareness together with the child.
Types of awards:
- Verbal praise – it is great when it is true, timely and relevant. We praise a 2-year-old child for using the pot, A 6-year-old child for writing his name in block letters; An 11-year-old that has solved a fraction problem; 18-year-old “child”, that he has earned a license or received his first salary.
We avoid excessive superlatives and the use of an excellent comparative degree (“you are super, mega good”, “you are the best“), because we aim for the child to have a real idea of himself. The sentence with our praise must always contain the concrete achievement. In this way we confirm the success.
- Formal award – stickers, smiles – drawings, badges, etc. They always work (as long as we give them exceptional value), especially when they are placed in a prominent place.
- Subject prize – a little specific area, because what our children need in our opinion and according to them are two very different things. So it is good to ask who the prize is for, because otherwise we can achieve an unexpected result.
- Cash reward – money can be a reward for a specific job and there is nothing wrong with that. It is important to use “pay”, when our child does something extraordinary and different from his main activities and obligations, unless we have planned to pay him for life.
Rewarding and encouraging will always be the better solution to punishment and sanctions.