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To reward or punish? What works best for you?

Onthemove1971 profile image
17 Replies

I am very curious about what works best for the group. When you start the day out fresh if you temp. your child with rewards does that work better? Or if you punish them.

For example if they have a list of things to accomplish during the day (one of them being reading 30min.) If you say once you finish x,y and z you will earn electronic time. Or if you say if you don't finish x,y and z you will not get electronic time, then follow through.

It is ALWAYS a struggle to get our son to do the things he doesn't like to do (read, exercise, etc..) especially while on break. Mind you I am allowing him to sleep in, eat a late breakfast ( he has had his medication) no pressures with time, just get the bloody work done.

What has worked better for you guys..


17 Replies
Pennywink profile image

Reward definitely for us. Even rephrasing to “If you a you’ll get b” from “If you don’t do a you won’t get b” has an impact. Plus it makes you look like a benefactor versus someone robbing them of something they were entitled to, and helps dodge any defiant instincts.

Here’s specifically what works for us:

A morning checklist (visual reminder)

An analog clock / time timer

A reward chart with rotating rewards

In general, I prefer to use natural / logical rewards versus giving him treats and tchotchkes all the time (it kinda drives me crazy when I see this in the schools.) Like - If you are ready early then you will have FREETIME to choose to do what you want. I had to extra incentivize the first time (I let him pick his snack for lunch), but once he really experienced having morning freetime, it helped.

For our reward chart, he has activities / chores that can earn him a check. Being ready early (before 8a) gets one check - for that immediate incentive you need. If he has 10 checks by the end of the week, he can pick one of 3 reward coupons of my choosing. We have like 10-15 coupons total, so he doesn’t know what his options will & it keeps it fresh (and I always pick things I can honor either that day or early in the week.) I do also take his suggestions into consideration - like if he really wants to buy lunch at school one day or have snack money or stay up late at a fun event.

I still need to give gentle reminders (great job making your bed - now lets see how well you can brush your teeth!) but these have helped. Mostly, the incentives are there until we can get things into habit, then things tend to go better.

Reward all the way. We even use an app on their tablets for time management. They earn time for doing different things (we establish the parameters and can reward time whenever). By emphasizing the positives they focus on repeating those behaviors

Kiandra profile image

I see my son is 11 and telling him a, b c dont work. Only A will get have way done if I don't check before he go back to his video game. Just yesterday i told him to clean the bathroom so i checked it and said now you have to wipe certain walls down in the bathroom and change the garbage bag in the bathroom, and get his clothes and shoes off the steps. I never checked because it was only the wall behind the sink were the hand soap sits and the other stuff is..... EASY! WELL I woke up NOTHING was done. So with him, he have to do one letter at a time, and i have to continually check it or stay in eye shot of while he's doing it. So try saying hey i have a few things for you to do right now. So first i want you to do A. And when he's done go to B. As a kid i remember a cousin couldn't remember ABC and she always got yelled at because she never went back to ask what to do. It was never fun over there.

Good luck! Happy Thanksgiving. Oh but the next morning when I told my son Didnt i tell you to do abc he did it. It was right before he took his morning pee lol. I think if i would of said it after he started playing his Xbox it would of been the same results of not remembering what i said. And sometimes kids have so much other stuff on their minds they tune us out!

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to Kiandra

Thanks for adding your experiences. I am curious, did he not get to play video games until he was done?

I always have my eyes and ears on him, but to get things done it takes the carrot ( video games )

Happy Thanksgiving

Kiandra profile image
Kiandra in reply to Onthemove1971

Oh yes i do take away the game but this time me thinking'oh the task is small wipe the tooth paste off the wall change the garbage bag you have to walk past your shoes and clothes on the stairs to get to your room.......and it still didnt click. He'll do everything to get his game back it'll be 2-3 weeks no game then a few days or a werk after the forgetfulness or half doing a chore kicks in. So i just decided with this kid even with his age i have to stay close it's irritating because i have 5 kids and i just want stuff done when i say so but with this one it dont work like that.

Pennywink profile image
Pennywink in reply to Kiandra

Thank you for sharing!

Have you tried a checklist for chores / anything with more than one step? We have visual posted checklists for morning routine / evening routine / how to do each chore that involves more than one step. If it’s something in the moment that we don’t have a checklist for, then I write in one of the dry erase boards we have mounted at home, or even bathtub crayons on the bathroom tiles for a bathtime list. I do still have to give him the list or remind him, but it helps us a lot.

Kiandra profile image
Kiandra in reply to Pennywink

Yes i have a dry erase board everyone name and a chore for the day. They are starting to realize if everyone do their chore everyday the next day is the next person chore and it's not so much work. I am just grateful they don't staythe same age forever😂

Kiandra profile image
Kiandra in reply to Pennywink

Well my kids love to go to after school programs such as the boys and girls club and a program called CLC. There they play differnt sports and are involved in differnt positive clubs. Thinking about it instead of coming straight home after school they can participate in these activities, so that's their reward to think about it, when i take that privilege away the world ends and they understand my routines for a while. I wonder why that since of "ok we know what mom wants go away? Aren't they tired of starting over ALL and getting things taken all the time?😕

Kiandra profile image

Oh i didnt answer your question i dont reward for doing what is asked. I just realized he's an intern lol and i have to keep a close eye on him. I try not to yell or be mean when i walk away and the job not done. I'm trying to train myself also to always supervise him. So these tasks and chores don't take so long.

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to Kiandra

Thank you!

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to Onthemove1971

We are the same way, sometim3s.his phone is gone for a week because his behavior is so bad. It times I don't think it is working becuase after a short time he misbehaves again. Such a cycle..yuck

Pennywink profile image
Pennywink in reply to Onthemove1971

Sorry to hear that. Have you tried switching it around, that the phone is NOT his which you take away, but yours, which he needs to earn? Basically having it is his reward for certain behaviors, versus taking it away as punishment for other behaviors. It’s not a cure, but is definitely more effective in our house.

Punishment (though sometimes necessary) seems to send my on a downward spiral of behavior, where he feels he has no power to improve - especially with ADHD. So making things more a reward / goal to work toward and giving him the resources to be able to accomplish it - preferably independently but with a lot of accommodations- builds up his self esteem that he IS capable, and in turn improves his behavior. This if we are able to use actual punishment sparingly, it is much more effective when we do, versus constantly reinforcing his negative self esteem issues.

I feel I always find the longest way to say things. Sorry!

Alliea79 profile image
Alliea79 in reply to Kiandra

And the thing is (not great but…) I really only ask my 11year old to do anything around the house when I’m too busy to do it all myself. At that point I have neither the time nor patience to supervise. And you guys are so right, I am always frustrated with the tiny bit done and the large bit missed. It just has been ingrained in me to just try to do everything myself in the first place and lose my mind and patience next. Time to re-evaluate I guess. I guess I am just glad it’s not just me/mine and also, the reminder to try and be patient and perhaps the time invested will hopefully someday pay off somehow!

Kiandra profile image
Kiandra in reply to Alliea79

Right and let me rephrase that you don't have to stand there and supervise, but before he get back on the game check it. You might have to give him smaller instructions step by step, you do not want to raise an unworthy lazy child. If you u do all the cleaning I feel children wont value the parents cleaning, and keep it clean. OR YOU GUYS CAN CLEAN THE SITUATION TOGETHER!!!!! 2 IS FASTER THAN ONE AND WE SKIP THAT WHOLE SUPERVISING MOMENT RECHECKING THING!!! OH MY I DEFINITELY HAVE




Pennywink profile image
Pennywink in reply to Alliea79

I would definitely recommend trying out some regular scheduled chores. There will probably be some resistance at first, this incentives needed. But, at least for us, once we get something to the point of habit, it it’s a bit smoother than just asking him to do something out of the blue one day. And we have checklists printed for every chore that requires more than one step - like a list to clean his room and a list for cleaning the bathroom.

We start both of our kids on age-appropriate chores by age 2.5. (My toddler sets napkins on the table and puts away the toddler dishes from the dish washer.) With ADHD and other concerns, it can be a challenge. But my husband and my goal as parents is to raise functional, independent adults and see what needs to be done around the home, as well as give them a sense of family and community that everyone is important and helps out for us to function as a family unit.

Sorry - felt a little “soap box” ish. Definitely not trying to preach that anyone else is wrong, as we all have unique challenges to face. Just what seems to work for us.

Reward,timers and checklist along with praise for good behavior works best for us my son is 12

Janice_H profile image

I have found that if I offer praise after the positive action, my son tends to try to do it right the next time. He has always struggled with getting himself ready in the morning. The one time he got up right away after the first request and got dressed without issues, he got praise. The next 2 days he was on time and actually told me "Mom, I got up on time and am ready"

Taking things away definitely does not work because he goes right back to poor behavior. The reward system does not work either because most ever week he cannot make it to the promised reward.

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