From Stickers to Success: Mastering Effective Reward Strategies in Parenting


Raising children is a rewarding, but challenging journey. Parents, caregivers, and educators often employ various techniques to encourage positive behavior and help children develop essential life skills. One such technique that has gained significant attention is the use of rewards. Reward strategies, when used effectively, can play a pivotal role in a child’s growth and development. However, they come with their set of risks and should be implemented carefully. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the role of rewards in child raising, including their impact on child growth, the risks of over-rewarding, and tips for establishing an effective reward system.

The Impact of Rewards on Child Growth

Rewards, when employed thoughtfully, can have a profound impact on a child’s growth and development. They can serve as powerful motivators and tools for reinforcing positive behaviors. Here are some ways in which rewards can influence a child’s growth:

Encouragement of Positive Behavior

Rewards can be used to reinforce positive behaviors, such as completing chores, doing well in school, or demonstrating kindness and empathy. When children receive rewards for these actions, they are more likely to repeat them, as they associate the behavior with a positive outcome.

Development of Self-Discipline

Reward systems can help children learn self-discipline and delayed gratification. When they are required to work towards a goal or exhibit consistent good behavior to earn a reward, they develop important skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Boosting Self-Esteem and Confidence

When children receive recognition and rewards for their achievements, it can boost their self-esteem and confidence. Knowing that their efforts are appreciated and acknowledged encourages them to set higher goals and strive for success in various areas of their lives.

Teaching Values and Responsibility

Rewards can be used as a means to teach children important values and responsibilities. For example, if a reward is tied to completing household chores, children learn the value of contributing to the family and taking on responsibilities.

Fostering a Positive Parent-Child Relationship

By using rewards judiciously, parents can create a positive and nurturing relationship with their children. This can lead to improved communication, trust, and overall well-being for both parents and children.

The Risks of Over-Rewarding

While rewards can be a valuable tool in child raising, overusing or misusing them can lead to unintended consequences. It’s essential to strike a balance and be aware of the potential risks associated with over-rewarding:

Dependency on External Reinforcement

Over-rewarding can lead to children becoming overly dependent on external reinforcement. When every action is met with a reward, children may struggle to find intrinsic motivation and may not develop a sense of personal responsibility.

Short-Term Focus

Excessive rewards can result in children having a short-term focus, seeking immediate gratification rather than working towards long-term goals. This can hinder their ability to persevere and stay committed when faced with challenges.

Diminished Intrinsic Motivation

When rewards are given too frequently, they can diminish a child’s intrinsic motivation—the desire to engage in an activity for its own sake. Children may lose interest in activities they once found enjoyable if they are only motivated by external rewards.

Unrealistic Expectations

Over-rewarding can set unrealistic expectations for children. They may come to expect rewards for routine or expected behaviors, making it difficult for parents to maintain the reward system or meet these expectations consistently.

Potential for Entitlement

Excessive rewards can foster a sense of entitlement in children, where they believe they are entitled to rewards for simply participating or existing, rather than for their efforts and accomplishments.

Tips for an Effective Reward System

To harness the positive impact of rewards while avoiding the risks of over-rewarding, it’s crucial to establish an effective reward system. Here are some tips to create a balanced and successful reward system:

Clearly Define Expectations

Set clear and age-appropriate expectations for your child. Ensure they understand what behaviors or achievements will be rewarded and what is expected of them.

Use a Variety of Rewards

Offer a variety of rewards, including verbal praise, small tokens, privileges, and experiences. This prevents over-reliance on material rewards and encourages a well-rounded appreciation for positive actions.

Be Consistent

Consistency is key in a reward system. Ensure that rewards are given promptly and fairly whenever the established criteria are met. Inconsistency can confuse children and undermine the effectiveness of the system.

Gradually Decrease External Rewards

As children grow and develop, gradually reduce the use of external rewards and shift the focus towards intrinsic motivation. Encourage them to find satisfaction in their achievements and the intrinsic value of their actions.

Encourage Goal Setting

Involve children in setting their own goals and targets for rewards. This helps them take ownership of their actions and fosters a sense of responsibility.

Monitor and Adjust

Regularly assess the effectiveness of your reward system. If certain behaviors are not improving or if your child is becoming overly focused on rewards, consider making adjustments to the system.

Promote Open Communication

Maintain open and constructive communication with your child. Discuss the reasons behind the reward system and listen to their thoughts and concerns. This helps build a trusting parent-child relationship.

Use Rewards Sparingly for Inherent Behaviors

Reserve rewards for behaviors that require encouragement or improvement. Avoid using them excessively for behaviors that are expected as part of daily routines.


Rewards can be a valuable tool in child raising when used thoughtfully and effectively. They have the potential to encourage positive behavior, boost self-esteem, and teach important life skills. However, over-rewarding can lead to dependency, unrealistic expectations, and diminished intrinsic motivation.

To strike the right balance, parents and caregivers should establish a well-defined and consistent reward system that evolves as their child matures. By doing so, they can promote healthy growth, development, and the cultivation of essential life skills while avoiding the pitfalls associated with excessive rewards.

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