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Friday, February 20, 2015

Reward Ideas for Children


In my last post, I wrote about ways to target and shape a behavior. One of your most powerful tools is to use rewards for what you’d like to see, but sometimes it can be challenging to come up with ideas! Here is a list of possible rewards you could use. Not every idea will be right for every child, but use this to select a few good matches or generate your own ideas about the reward that would motivate your child.

Reward Ideas for Children:

  • Time to play with Mom or Dad
  • Extra time to play alone
  • Choosing a book for a parent to read to them
  • Choosing a book to read to a parent
  • Taking a bubble bath
  • Extra screen time
  • Going bowling 
  • Playing a sport with Mom or Dad
  • Having a sleepover in a different room of the house
  • Movie night with pizza and popcorn
  • A Pokemon card (or other small collectible item - larger items can be earned with a token system)
  • One item from a dollar store (suggestion: stock up on small treats and put together a prize box so the child can select from this)
  • Choosing a show to watch
  • Extra outdoor play time
  • Staying up 10 minutes later
  • Allowance 
  • A special food/drink treat 
  • Sitting in the front seat
  • Playing with special toys like play doh
  • Creating an art project
  • Going to the park
  • Taking a walk
  • Choosing a meal
  • Helping to make cookies

You may notice that most of these are not tangible rewards, but rather a privilege or time spent with others in the family. If you choose a non-tangible reward, it may be helpful to either give the reward immediately or present a coupon representing the reward to the child.

Do you have other ideas for rewards? Please share them below!


Emily Herber McLean, LPC is a child and family therapist at The Center for Psychological Services. To learn more about her practice, visit www.centerpsych.com.
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