How to Shape Children’s Behavior with Effective Reward and Punishment

Reward and punishment are one method of teaching children about good and bad, about right and wrong. A right behavior should be rewarded so it becomes habits. Wrong behavior should be punished so it won’t be repeated. Below are some examples of reward and punishment in a toddler’s activities context. Now the question is, how to shape children’s behavior with effective reward and punishment?

Effective Rewards to Shape Children’s Behavior
Give children a reward when they:

– are willing to lend or share a toy with another child
– clean away the toys after play
– say thank you after receiving some help
– put their shoes in the proper place
– throw garbage in its place
– eating at the dinner table
– brush their teeth before bedtime
– pee and pup at the toilet
– finish their food

A reward does not have to be goods, but it could be a smile, nice words or body languages. The best reward would be a praise, right at that time. Example, “I’m proud that you clean away your toys. It makes your room tidy, and that way you’ve helped me clean the house.” By saying this, not only a child gets a reward, he/she also understand the effect of his/her act. It encourages a child to do it again.

Explain your reason for giving him/her a reward. You may say, “Because you have put your shoes on its place, I will read you two books at bedtime.” A specific reason will help a child understand that a reward is given for a certain behavior.

Give a reward immediately after the expected behavior. For example, serve a cup of hot chocolate after your child shares his/her toys with the friend. This will make him/her believe that you really appreciate and love what he/she does.

Mention your child’s expected behavior in front of others. It could be GrandPa, Grandma, friends or neighbors. For example, “Last night Lynn helped me wash the dishes. She did it good and clean”.

Effective Punishment to Shape Children’s Behavior

Punishment should be given when a child does something that you consider dangerous. You prohibit an act but your child disobeys it. For example:
– hitting a friend
– push a friend in order to grab a toy
– taking other’s possession without permission

Before the punishment is given, explain to your child that hitting, pushing, and taking friend’s possession will make them sad or hurt. If she/he does it, you will give her/ his punishment.

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