How to Encourage Positive Behaviour in Children

Using token economies to reward positive behaviour.

Whether you are a parent or teacher, rewarding good behaviour has to be a priority. This principle teaches children what behaviour should be repeated and which shouldn’t. A reward for positive behaviour could be something as simple as praise.

Imagine the scenario your child is bored, you haven’t had enough time to spend in the day with them. It happens we are all busy people. They start to kick the chairs and throw things in the lounge, due to the boredom. You go over to them, putting your work down and deal with their behaviour.

What have you taught your child?

When they were naughty, they got your attention and you spent time with them. When they were misbehaving you rewarded their bad behaviour with attention.

I understand the above scenario happens many times in a home. It is hard to avoid, at the moment when a child is misbehaving. Fifteen minutes before this incident, you could have taught positive behaviour. The fifteen minutes, when they were playing, would have been a perfect time. Go over to them and spend five minutes playing with them and interacting with them. This way you have rewarded their good behaviour.

Photo by Limor Zellermayeron Unsplash

I know what you are all thinking this isn’t easy. I agreed with you, as I sit and write this I can think of at least three times yesterday when I went against my own advice.

Simply put: Ignore the bad; reward the good.

Token Economies

Sounds like a complex method, when you say token economy. Simply put, I mean a sticker reward chart or something similar.

Many people I speak to about token economies ask me, isn’t this blackmail to get children to behave? I disagree, token economies are positive rewards for positive behaviour.

Still not convinced? Then ask yourself this, would you go to work if you did not receive wages at the end of it?

This is your version of a token economy.

Token economies work well for all children, no matter their age. The system is simple to set up and can be tailored to your child’s age. Young children would like to stick stickers every time they do something. Older children might prefer an electronic version that can be shared on their phone. The concept is the same, you personalise it to your child.

How to Make it Work

  • Make it individual to your child. If they like cats, use cat stickers if they like cars, car stickers.
  • Give the child something worth working for. Work out within your budget what you can afford. If a child is good for a month, they may get a trip out. If they are good for a week, they may get a magazine. This is completely up to the parent and child to decide. If money is short then use the reward of a girly night in with mum, a trip fishing with dad.
  • It is important you never remove stickers for bad behaviour. This approach devalues the positive behaviour which was originally rewarded.

Introducing any new initiative can be tough. As your child develops allow them to pick their rewards within a certain budget. This will encourage their budgeting skills as well as positive behaviour.

Work with it for a month and I can assure you, you will see the improvements.


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