our everyday life

An Award System for Children in School to Help Them Want to Behave

by Sara Ipatenco, studioD

You can't accompany your child to school each day to ensure that she behaves, but you should expect excellent behavior even when you're not the one enforcing the rules. If your child has come home with yet another poor behavior report, it's time to make some changes to your discipline and consequences policy. Start with an award system that gives your child incentives to change her behavior for the better.

Expectations and Consequences

The first step in changing your child's behavior at school is to sit her down and outline what you expect. For example, most parents expect their child to stay in her seat and work quietly and to refrain from talking to peers until recess. Other parents require their child to address the teacher as "Sir" or "Ma'am." Whatever your expectations, clearly explain them to your child. Write them on a piece of paper to send to school if you have to. At the same time you're outlining your expectations, tell your child what the consequences are if she doesn't meet those expectations. When your child knows exactly what's expected of her, she'll be more likely to remember the rules and adhere to them.

Award System Set-Up

Decide how you'll reward your child when he meets your expectations. You might have his teacher draw a star on a piece of paper or send home a short note about how well he did at school that day, which he can save up to spend on a prize. At home, you might give your child a sticker for every good day, which he can trade in toward a larger prize when he gets a certain number of stickers. Institute a ticket system as another idea. Award your child a ticket for every good day he has a school. When he gets a predetermined number of stickers, he can choose a prize. At the same time, taking away a star, sticker or ticket might be an effective consequence for misbehavior. If your child is trying to get a certain number of items, taking one away can encourage your child to behave more appropriately.

Incentives and Rewards

Once your child gets a certain number of stars, complimentary notes, stickers or tickets, let her choose her prize. A chance to go see a movie, a trip to an ice cream parlor or an afternoon at the museum are awards children of all ages enjoy. An extra bedtime story or an extra half hour of staying up late are additional prize ideas. You might have your child work toward a larger prize, too, such as a special toy she's been wanting. A simple reminder that poor behavior will make it take even longer to earn the prize is often motivating to children who don't meet your expectations and can be a powerful addition to your reward system.

Tips and Considerations

Stay calm and focused as you implement your reward system. Refrain from yelling at your child because it won't encourage good behavior and it might harm your relationship. Focus on the positive as much as you can. Pointing out your child's successes is far more powerful than constantly nagging him about his failures. As your child heads off to school each morning, remind him of the rules and consequences so they're fresh in his mind all the time. Be consistent. Each time a rule is broken, hand out the consequence so your child understands that you mean what you say.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages, Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images