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Kids Reward System: How to Encourage Cooperation in Classrooms

kids reward system

Using a kids reward system is a hot topic among teachers and parents alike. You probably wonder if it’s effective to use behavior charts for rewards—or consequences. Most child-development experts agree that a reward system for children can work, as long as it’s not punitive and doesn’t involve bribery.

Positive reinforcement encourages students to pay attention, follow classroom rules, and cooperate with lesson plans. Plus, it’s much more pleasant (for adults and children alike) than constantly nagging and scolding. Sunday school teachers don’t want to spend precious classroom time on discipline.

A kids reward system can take a variety of formats, depending on children’s ages and your goals. It must be fairly simple to use and to integrate into other tasks. Otherwise the reward system will quickly fall by the wayside.

The point isn’t to bribe kids into sitting still or doing chores. Over-praising children isn’t the point, either. Kids need to eventually internalize their behavior and find intrinsic motivation for actions.

So focus on encouraging and reinforcing children’s worthy acts. After a while, you won’t need to use a kids reward system because these actions will be engrained.

Keep reading to see how other people set up and use a reward system for kids. Pick and choose your favorite aspects and then create your own. Better yet: Involve children in the process!

Launching a Kids Reward System

1. Types of reward systems

First, consider the many types of formats for a kids reward system. Some people prefer sticker charts, while others prefer using points that accumulate.

2. Types of prizes or rewards

Prizes can be either tangible items or activities and outings. Some people steer clear of candy and other sweet treats. Experts recommend using items that are meaningful for kids. Also try to make rewards consistent and immediate, especially for younger children. With older kids, rewards can be more long-term and varied.

Check out this long list of reward ideas!

3. Implementation tips

  • Remember to stay positive about the process and offer praise. Kids will be more willing to participate and will feel more invested in the reward system.
  • For younger children, use shorter-term and more immediate rewards. Focus on just one behavior or goal at a time. Provide simple descriptions that kids will understand.
  • For older kids, you can more easily use a point system, coupons, or menu-based options. Some parents use a kids reward system for allowance or screen time.
  • Consistency matters! Unless you stay on top of the reward system and follow through, it won’t lead to the desired results.
  • Involve kids as much as possible. That increases their buy-in as well as the system’s effectiveness.