Human nature is such that we respond to positive reinforcement – that is, any form of positive reaction to something that we do. Some parents, though, disapprove of using incentives to encourage their child to behave appropriately. In their view, this is simply bribery. A child shouldn’t have to be “paid” in order to behave responsibly, they say.
However, there are other factors to consider. First, an occasional treat for good behaviour won’t do your child any harm. As long as the rewards are sporadic, your child won’t expect to receive one every time.
Second, there is a difference between promising your child a reward beforehand in order to persuade him to finish his homework on time, and giving him a reward afterwards because you are so pleased he completed his homework without complaint. The timing of the incentive is important.
Third, the term “bribe” suggests a sinister underlying purpose for the action, when in reality, all you are trying to do is encourage more appropriate behaviour.
Rewards and incentives don’t have the same effect on your child every time. When using them, consider the following: