HOW TO SELECT EFFECTIVE REWARDS FOR CHILDREN IN SCHOOLS

Dr. M. C. Jain 
M.A. Ph.D. (Psychology)

It is true that different persons including parents or school teachers find different things, events, or activities rewarding at different times. Therefore we as parents or teachers cannot say with certainly which thing or activity will act as a reward for a chinless it has been found with a little trial or experimentation. We have to look what motivated a child in the past? What interests him? The things which a child wants and does not get can also serve as rewards for him. If a child perceives something as important, it can also act as a reward. If we use some reward consistently with a child, it becomes more effective in modifying his behavior. Therefore, we may have to use different rewards for different children. Following are some of the guidelines which can help us to select effective and appropriate rewards for children.

1. OBSERVE THE CHILD’S BEHAVIOUR
Observe the child to find in which appropriate behaviors he or she often indulges or the activities he or she likes to perform frequently. An activity which is preferred by a child or in which he or she engages in more frequently can be used to reinforce his low frequently behaviors. For example, if we know that a child is more frequently reading comics and less frequently the language text books, we can tell the child that he will be given a comic for reading after he reads a few pages of the language textbook. Similarly in case a child plays more and eats less his mother can allow him to play outside only after he finishes eating. 


2. ASK THE CHILD DIRECTLY 
We can ask the child directly to tell about his/or her likening or what he would like to have as a result of his effort or achievement.

3. USE A REWARD PREFERENCE CHICKLIST 
We can ask the child to give a list of his preferred rewards. The child can also be asked to indicate his order of preference of rewards, if possible. A ‘Reward Preference Checklist’ can also be used. The child is asked to indicate his preferences on this list.

4. KNOW THE CHILD’S REWARD HISTORY 
We can obtain information from parents, teachers, child’s caretakers or others who know the child about the things or activities for which the child has previously worked for or demanded.

5. CHOOSE EASILY AVAILABLE REWARDS
The rewards which can be acquired easily should be selected. The rewards should be such which can be given easily to the child in the school, classroom or home settings, as the case may be. That is why social rewards like appreciation, recognition and certain privileges are often used. These cost less than most edible and material rewards. Social rewards are also more natural and easily available for use.

6. REWARD SAMPLING TECHNIQUE
If the teacher or parent does not know which reward works best with the child, a few probable rewards can be placed in front of the child. Then it can be observed which rewards the child chooses or likes best. This technique helps to find the right rewards for a given child.

7. CHOOSE APPROPRIATE REWARDS
The rewards chosen should be appropriate to the age, sex, and individual needs of the child. For example , primary rewards like eatables are more appropriate with young children.

8. CHOOSE STRONG REWARDS
The rewards must be strong enough to motivate the child so that he makes efforts to get these. Some times it becomes necessary to use eatable also with younger children even in the classroom settings.So do not hesitate to use these if you feel that these can be effective.

9. CHANGE OF REWARDS
Sometimes it becomes necessary to change the rewards. What a child likes today he may not like it after a few days. It is also due to the fact that when we use same reward over a period of time, the child feels satisfied with it and he may feel boredom also. It decreases the power of a reward to motivate the child. So we have to watch out for any changes taking place in children’s references and also change the rewards accordingly in order to effectively modify children’s behavior.

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