Keep them Sweet

Five rewards and incentives for your children

If you live or work with kids, you'll know that they love being praised on a regular basis and that positive feedback really can have effective results in terms of behaviour, performance and wellbeing. Little treats here and there keep young minds motivated and help children to focus on projects and tasks. While bribery is an ugly word, incentives and rewards can also encourage cheeky monkeys to do particular tasks, so here are five ways to keep them sweet:

Book a family holiday

Family holidays are the perfect way to relax and unwind. They're also a great reward for children who have done well at school or have been particularly kind or helpful at home. While there are plenty of UK destinations to visit during half-terms or weekends, you could also head further afield with companies like Family luxury and child-friendly accommodation is right at your finger tips, so it's well-worth popping something into the calendar. Even if you book a holiday in 12 months' time it can be seen as something really exciting to look forward to, and kids can 'earn' extra pocket or spending money out for behaving well, or doing well at school, in the run up to the vacation.

Head on a day trip

Explain to your children that if they complete their coursework/homework on time or pass a particular test/project that you'll take them on a day trip to reward their hard work. Day trips aren't always cheap so this might be something you do every few months - rewarding a great school report might be a good idea. Theme parks are a great way for kids to let off some steam or they might prefer heading to one of the many water or wildlife parks dotted around the UK - wherever you live in the country you'll be in drivable distance of one.

If the kids can't agree where they want to go, write down all suggestions on a slip of paper and choose one at random from a hat. That way the decision is unbiased and fair. To keep the peace, you might want to ensure that the second choice is the next destination for a day out.

Visit their favourite restaurant

If you've nothing planned one evening, why not whisk your kids off to their favourite restaurant? Sure, you might not consider their joint of choice classy or healthy but if it's their treat it's only fair they get to choose the eatery, right? Encourage healthy food choices, of course, but if all goes out the window they can always get back on the fruit and vegetable in the morning after a night of sticky fingers, ketchup covered faces and overly full bellies. Plus, it gives you a break from cooking for a night, and eating together around a table is also great family bonding time.

Make a star chart

Depending on the age of your children, a star rewards chart could work wonders - it's a proven technique for encouraging and rewarding good behaviour and discouraging errant, naughty behaviour. If children are struggling to sleep through the night, for instance, offer them a star whenever they manage to do that and place it clearly on the board so they can see what they've 'won'.

That way, they'll see what they've achieved and hopefully aim to sleep for longer periods of time to earn another reward. The same logic applies to other daily activities such as eating vegetables, dressing in time for school, packing their toys away, making their bed and such like. Never underestimate the value a younger child can place on getting a gold star on a chart!

Money allowance

As your kids grow older, giving them some kind of money allowance as a reward can work well. Not only will it give them the freedom to buy their own things here and there but it'll teach them the value of money and the importance of budgeting. If they don't yet have a bank account you could always open one together and set up a standing order from your account to theirs. This will take out the hassle of transferring pocket money but will give you the flexibility to cancel or adjust it when you choose.

Rewards, incentives, encouragement and praise can do wonders for your children so it's well-worth giving these ideas a go. The key is not necessarily to punish bad behaviour but to encourage good by recognising and rewarding.

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