Catch Your Kids Being Good

How many times have you heard some parenting expert remark that we should catch our kids being good? How many times have we caught our kids being good but failed to acknowledge their efforts? I admit many times I catch Tyler being good and I don’t say anything. But no more. I’ve discovered that sometimes the simplest gestures mean a lot to young kids.

I’ve been having almost nightly struggles with Tyler at bedtime. He plays around for nearly an hour most nights before he finally zonks out. I read recently that an early bedtime is for the benefit of the parents as much as it is for the kids. We need that adult time after a day of parenting. Although I work about four hours each day while Tyler’s at school, I still need additional time to work at night. I don’t mind working late, most nights I do anyway, but sometimes I just want to relax before I go to bed. I can’t do that if he does not settle down by 9. So imagine my surprise when he went to bed last night without any struggles. I was so surprised and pleased that I decided I’d definitely better do something to let him know that I appreciate his going to bed and giving me time to relax (one of my resolutions is not to work on Sunday’s anymore–this will be my official reading for pleasure day). I picked up Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story and I was anxious to start reading it. I decided that this was a case of being good because he went to bed when I asked him to. So what I did was take a big gold sticker and put it on half of an index card. Then I placed it where it would be the first thing he would see this morning when he woke up.

When he saw it his eyes grew wide and he hugged and kissed me even though he had no idea what it was for! Then I explained that it was a reward for going to bed when I asked him. I told him that he can trade it for a reward when he comes home from school. I will give him a few choices and let him decide what his reward will be. Maybe an extra book at story time, 30 minutes more outside playtime, etc. No money, candy, or material rewards. I’ve decided to use as many non-material rewards as I can. I will save the material rewards for big accomplishments. For instance, he made 100 on the second quarter CTR standardized tests and all A’s in his class. So he’ll make the A Honor Roll, receive another “scholar” shirt, certificates and some other prize (last time it was a book bag). For this he’ll get $20 and go out to eat, same as last quarter.

He loves stickers so I think this might be a really good way to reward him for good behavior. I have tons of stickers so why not use them? I had a bunch of “you’re a great reader” stickers that I used last year. Every time he read a book, I would put one on him and he would walk around proudly displaying his accomplishment. I think I will try using the stickers more. I notice that his teacher gives out stickers sometimes and he’s always proud when he gets one. Sometimes the simplest gestures mean a lot to young kids.

See also:

Positive Reinforcement: Non-material Rewards Are Just As Effective

An Easy Solution To Attention-seeking Behavior

Acknowledging Small Steps Your Kids Make