Rewarding good is easier than punishing bad

Recently my wife emailed me an article that said preschoolers respond well to charts and stickers as a means of positive reinforcement, so we’ve been giving it a try for the past 2 weeks and it seems to be paying off.

We have set up a simple system where The Girl gets a sticker when she does certain tasks. Full cooperation with her nightly routine (getting in and out of the bath, putting her pj’s on and brushing her teeth) earns her a sticker. Sleeping through the night in her own bed gets a sticker. If she does come down to our bed, crawling in quietly without waking anyone up also gets her a sticker. Fully cooperating with her morning routine (eating breakfast, picking clothes, getting dressed, etc.) also earns a sticker. Once she gets 10 stickers she gets a reward.

So far, we’ve done 2 rewards (a new bed for one of her dolls and a trip to Dairy Queen for an ice cream cone). What we are planning to do for the rewards is write a bunch of them down on pieces of paper and stick them in a jar. Rewards run the gammut from the small like a package of gum or buying a piece of candy out of the vending machine after her swimming lessons, to medium rewards like getting a new book from the bookstore, to large like getting a new toy. To save our pocketbook (and to lower the risk of her expecting a big toy everytime she gets 10 stickers), we have way more small rewards than big. In fact, the buy a new toy is really the only big one. When she gets 10 stickers she can pick one from the jar.

It’s really amazing how much more cooperation we get with a bit of sugar than having to constantly bang our head against the wall and engage in a battle of wills to get the simple routine things done.

Bribery? Maybe so. But for the past 2 weeks we have had peace and cooperation in our house. And we have been laughing a heck of a lot more with each other than we had been in the previous month. And that, for all of us, is the real reward.

One response to “Rewarding good is easier than punishing bad

  1. Good idea with the stickers as rewards…gonna start that with my daughter in a year or so. My wife, being the sticker nut that she is, has already bought the stickers.
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