How can I reward good behaviour?

Giving lots of praise is a great way to encourage and reward good behaviour. Remember that children need extra help to connect the praise to their actions.

Dad lifting son and hugging him
  • Praise children straight after they’ve behaved well. Be specific and say what you’re pleased about: “Well done for getting ready so quickly! That’s really helpful, thank you”.
  • Praise doesn’t have to be verbal – a thumbs-up, a hug or a smile works just as well.
  • Don’t keep approval for when they’ve done something big. If you appreciated how they were quiet while you were on the phone, let them know!
  • Try to praise your child for who they are, as well as what they do: “I love how funny you are, you make me laugh!” or “I’m proud of how kind you are to your friends”. Praising your child in front of others is an even bigger boost.
  • Don’t forget to model self-praise and accepting compliments. Let your child learn from and copy you.
  • Praise is usually all a child needs as a reward but you can give small gifts if you like – such as a sticker, a book or crayons. Remember to explain what behaviour they’re getting it for.
  • Children don’t outgrow praise – older kids and teenagers thrive on it. This can be a good time to link rewards like money to taking on responsibility or completing tasks.
  • Children who seem hardest to praise often need the most encouragement. Everyone has good points that deserve recognition at any time. Keep looking for these, and help your child spot and value them, too.
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