Posts Tagged encouragement

5 Tips for Sibling Harmony

three siblings whisperingthree siblings whispering

three siblings whispering

It’s 7 AM, and you’re sitting in absolute silence, enjoying a steaming hot cup of coffee before diving into the usual morning madness. 

You let out a deep sigh of enjoyment. These are the mornings you live for. Nothing but perfect peace until you hear…




“He won’t leave me alone!”

“She’s not letting me use the bathroom!”

“I was here first!”

Ah, yes, the morning routine has begun. And once again, your kids are at each other’s throats. 

That hot coffee and silence were nice while they lasted, you think. But now the real day begins.

Sound familiar?

Let’s face it – sibling spats are a part of life.  

In fact, sibling rivalry is not only inevitable; it’s a healthy way for kids to learn how to compromise and navigate relationships.

But on the downside, the constant bickering can also wreak havoc on daily life, not to mention Mom’s and Dad’s nerves. 

Our goal is to achieve at least some measure of sibling harmony, right?

Right! In fact, this idea of “sibling harmony” is so desired among parents that we’ve dedicated an entire masterclass to the topic as part of our Household Harmony Trifecta Series.

Enroll in the Sibling Harmony Masterclass today and put an end to those frustrating battles tomorrow!

All parents want their kids to get along. But few feel confident in their ability to bring that harmony home.

But I can promise you, sibling harmony is possible! 

It may sound like an impossible dream, but it’s absolutely do-able with these 5 Tips for Sibling Harmony:

Tip #1: Don’t Compare or Label Your Kids

One of the easiest mistakes for parents to make is labeling and comparing our kids. I get it!

Perhaps you’ve found yourself saying something like, “He’s my shy little guy,” or “She’s always been the studious one in the family.”

Sounds innocent enough, but even subtle labels fuel sibling rivalry. It can also unintentionally lead to a feeling of competition between them. 

Think about it from their perspective…

If Mom refers to my sibling as the “studious one” by default, I assume that I’m not particularly studious. If she affectionately refers to me as “her wild one” or “her handful,” most likely, my sibling will feel rather superior as the “well-behaved” one.  

Knowing how you may unintentionally label your kids and fuel competition is a great first step in banishing the bickering in your house.

Tip #2: Spend One-on-One Time Daily with Each Child

The most important strategy to minimize sibling rivalry is to deliberate about daily one-on-one time with each child and build connections. We like to refer to this time as MIND, BODY AND SOUL TIME® togetherness.

That’s simply ten to fifteen minutes per day when your child has YOU to herself. This short time will go a long way toward reducing sibling competition for your attention.

It’s no secret that well-behaved kids are often ignored, while misbehaving kids get attention.  

Beat them to the punch by proactively filling their attention baskets, and you’ll find that their attention-seeing behaviors, such as squabbling, will decrease.

household harmony class

Tip #3: Be a Mediator, Not a Referee

At this point in parenthood, you may feel as though you should always carry a whistle and invest in a fully-stocked wardrobe of black-and-white striped shirts.

While you may feel like a referee, that is not your job! In fact, when parents referee sibling scuffles and choose sides, rivalry naturally escalates.  

As parents, our job is to mediate, not play judge and jury. Bring the parties together and help them devise a solution they can feel good about. That way, there are no winners or losers, and they’ll learn valuable skills they’ll use in future conflicts.

Yes, sometimes we really can all win.

amy mccready sibling harmony quote

Tip #4: Don’t Force Kids to Share

Learning to share is important, and so are boundaries.

When kids are forced to turn something over to a sibling (especially when it’s a new gift), it sends them a very clear message: Sharing feels bad, and I don’t want to do it again. 

Instead of forcing your child to “give your sister a turn,” you can say, “That’s Megan’s new toy, and she’ll let you have a turn when she’s ready.” 

This creates a feeling of safety for Megan. Over time, she’ll feel less territorial and be willing to share on her own.

Helpful Hint: Heather Schumacher offers great advice on this topic, including the words to say, in her book, It’s OK Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids

Tip #5: Tolerate the Tantrums

Kids continue behaviors that work for them. 

When parents give in to a sibling’s tantrum and say, “Oh, just give her a turn!” it fuels sibling rivalry and reinforces that the best tactic to get what you want is to pitch a fit.  

Make sure the tantrum “doesn’t work” by letting it run its course. (I know it’s hard!) 

In the midst of the tantrum, you can empathize with your child. This may sound something like…

“It’s hard to wait, isn’t it? Would you like to play with something else now?”

While letting the tantrum run its course may feel particularly painful while it’s happening, over time, you’ll see your persistence and refusal to give in pay dividends on how your kids behave together.

Final Thoughts

Imagine a household where sibling rivalry and fights are a rare occurrence.

It may seem like a pipe dream, but I promise it isn’t! 

If you stay armed with these 5 tips and you’ll not only help your kids navigate sibling relationships–they may even achieve sibling harmony

If, after testing the waters with these 5 tips, you still need more sibling rivalry solutions — don’t worry. Enroll in our Sibling Rivalry Solutions Masterclass and put an end to these exhausting power struggles.

Here’s wishing you and your children the best, most harmonious household ever!

3 Communication Tips to Avoid Power Struggles

young african american family holding hands

Just imagine…

You’re 4-years-old, walking to the park with your mom and dad. The sun is shining, there’s a soft breeze in the air, and the twirly slide is calling your name. You can’t wait to get there. 

Just as you step onto the sidewalk, your mom shouts, “Don’t go in the street!” 

You hadn’t planned on walking in the street. At least not until this very moment. You stare at the smooth black pavement glistening in the sunlight. It’s just begging for you to run across it!

Why, oh, why did your mom even mention the street? Had she said, “Please walk with us on the sidewalk,” you probably wouldn’t have even noticed it. 

Now, it’s all your little mind can think about.

As parents, we can give commands to our children positively or negatively. Both, essentially, are asking the same thing, but the delivery–and the impression it leaves– can be exponentially different.

And in a world where the average child hears 432 negative comments or words per day versus 32 positive ones (Source: K. Kvols, Redirecting Children’s Behavior), it’s safe to say which style we typically rely on.

Don’t be late! Stop talking with your mouth full! Don’t touch your sister! No more fighting!

I’m sure a few of these sound familiar. But you see, when most of the language we use with our kids is negative (don’t, stop, no more, etc.) we create problems for both them and us.

Negative language is confusing, demeaning, and comes off as harsh. Kids don’t want to feel talked down to any more than adults do. 

Not to mention, it invites All. The. Power. Struggles.

Fortunately, the fix is as simple as swapping out those negative phrases for more positive ones. Trust me; this will do wonders for your child’s misbehavior!

Why? Because positive language empowers kids! It tells them that they can make good choices, and we value what they have to say. It’s a massive boost to their self-esteem.

Here’s the not-so-fortunate part. It may be simple, but simple doesn’t always mean easy. Making these changes isn’t going to happen overnight, especially if you’ve been using negative commands for years–it’s just second nature at this point! 

But with a bit of time, practice, and intentional effort, I’m confident you’ll get there. 

To get you started, here are 3 tips to avoid power struggles by using positive language.

Tip #1: Practice Using “Do” Commands

Don’t run in the street! Don’t talk with food in your mouth! Don’t forget to brush your teeth!

Do any of these sound familiar?

To put an end to the power struggles, try to rephrase these statements using “Do” commands….

Please walk on the sidewalk. Keep your lips together when chewing food, please. When your teeth are brushed, we’ll be ready for storytime!

Why “Do” Commands Lead to More Cooperation

As parents, we probably say the word “don’t” more times than we can count in one day. And with good reason! We want to keep our children safe, healthy, and happy. Naturally, we have to tell them what they shouldn’t do. 


The problem isn’t so much what we’re asking but rather how we’re asking it. You see, when we use “don’t” commands, our kids automatically have to “double-process” what we’re telling them.

They think, What does Mom NOT want me to do? AND, What does she want me to DO instead?

Not only is this discouraging, but it’s also incredibly confusing–especially for young children. “Don’t” reinforces the negative behavior and brings it to their full attention (remember the street scenario above?).

You say, “Don’t run in the street!” and they think, “Gee, running in the street sounds really fun right about now.”

You say, “Don’t play on your iPad,” and they think, “iPad, iPad, iPad! I REALLY want my iPad!”

Instead, try switching up your phrasing by stating what you do want instead of what you don’t. (Bonus points if you ask politely.)

For example, if you want to say “DO walk on the sidewalk,” try, “Please walk on the sidewalk. It’s so nice knowing we are being safe.”

Or, if you’re going for “DO stay away from the iPad,” try, “Let’s play outside while the weather is nice and save your screen time for when we’re in the car later.”

Doesn’t that sound much better?

Right off the bat, this eliminates the need to “double-process” the command. Your child knows exactly what you’re asking and feels especially significant because you asked in such a polite and respectful way.

It also does away with any looming frustration that tends to go hand-in-hand with negative comments. You’ll take their thinking from, Why can’t I? to Yes, I can! 

And with that boost of empowerment in your daily lives, you’ll be sure to see less misbehavior.

free parenting class

Tip #2: Find Opportunities to Say “Yes!”

One of the best ways to reduce power struggles is to shift our “no’s” into something that — to a child — feels more like a “yes.”

For example, just imagine…

It’s Saturday afternoon, and you and your 10-year-old son are perusing the aisles of your local pet store. All you need is a bag of dog food, but you’re making it an outing because you both enjoy peeking in on the new puppies and kittens.

You’re deeply enthralled with an adorable little furball when, all of a sudden, you hear your son call to you from across the store. 

“Mom, come check out this baby alligator! Can we buy him?”

Ummm, say what now? 

Sure, there are many amazing parents out there that would love to bring a pet alligator home. But you are NOT one of them. Of course, now you feel backed into a corner. Up until now, you’ve been a positive language rockstar! But that ends today.  

You have to say no.

And you know what? That’s fine! 

Parents can’t (and shouldn’t) give their children every single thing they ask for. If they did, I’m pretty sure the world would be run by entitled kids fueled solely on dino nuggets and candy.

So let’s set the record straight right now. “No” isn’t the problem. How we present the “no” can be.

Let’s say your immediate reaction is:

“No. We are absolutely NOT getting a pet alligator today, tomorrow, or ever!”

Can you see how something so negatively charged may be discouraging to your 10-year-old? He was only asking a question, but your answer leaves him frustrated, disheartened, and ready to push back.

So what can you do when the answer is “no,” but you want to maintain that positive language? 

Try shifting that power struggle paradigm by finding a way to turn that “no” answer into something that more resembles a “yes.” 

You could try:

“We can’t buy an alligator to take home, but let’s pick a day when we can come back and visit it in the store. Would you rather come back Sunday afternoon or Monday evening?”

This way, you aren’t driving home with a reptilian creature in the backseat, but you also don’t have to say no.

It’s a win-win. 

While this may seem tricky at first, I’m willing to bet that you’re actually much better at disguising no’s for yes’s than you think.

Maybe it’s your toddler, asking for the hundredth time if she can wear her purple polka dot snowsuit to the swimming pool because it’s her “favorite color in the whole wide world!”

“You can absolutely wear your snowsuit inside the house with the A/C on high! But let’s stick to wearing your purple swimsuit at the pool. Snowsuits are hard to splash in.”

Or perhaps your fresh-from-the-DMV teen really wants to learn how to drive in your classic (and newly restored) ’65 Mustang.

“Buddy, you’d look so awesome driving that car, but it can be really hard to learn the rules of the road in a manual transmission. Why don’t we start in an automatic until you’re more confident behind the wheel?”

See? Even when the answer is “no” you can always squeeze a refreshingly positive “yes” in there somewhere.

Try a Yes Day!

positive language quote

Another way to find more opportunities to say “yes” throughout the day is quite simple. Just say “yes!”

A popular trend in recent years has been for families to institute a “Yes Day” with their kiddos. Typically, this is one full day when parents say yes to any request (with ground rules and within reason) their kids ask.

Breakfast for dinner? Yes! 

Mini golf followed by a movie? Absolutely! 

Wear pajamas to the candy store? Um, if you say so!

The intention behind the idea of a Yes Day is to give your children something all Positive Parenting Solutions parents know they desire–a strong feeling of belonging and significance!

Saying “yes” to their requests tells them that you’re interested in what they have to say and what they want to do. They’re an essential part of the family, and you recognize all of their contributions.

Yes is powerful! 

Pro Tip: Positive Parenting Solutions Members, review Step 1 Lesson 2 of the 7-Step Parenting Success System® course to understand more about your child’s desire for belonging and significance.

Tip #3: Whenever Possible, Smile When You Speak

You may be thinking, Okay, Amy, what’s with you? This is getting a little weird. 

Trust me. I get it. 

But, believe it or not, lots of research shows that smiling when we speak has a significantly positive impact on both us and those we’re talking to! It may seem a bit out there, but I promise you’ll soon see just how helpful it can be when trying to switch from negative to positive language. 

Because the truth is, it’s really hard to say anything negative when you’ve got a smile on your face.

Let’s give it a try…

With your brightest smile, repeat after me: “Don’t ride your bike without a helmet on. It’s really dangerous, and I don’t want you to get hurt.”

I’m willing to bet that felt pretty awkward (and possibly looked a little terrifying). Why? Because the emotion on your face didn’t match what you were saying. 

Now, let’s try it again. Only this time, let’s also rephrase the sentence using what we learned in the first two tips.

Again, be sure to show off those pearly whites: “Please wear your helmet when you’re on your bike. I love knowing that you’re being safe.”

Ahhh, I bet that felt much better! And the funny thing is, you were still getting the same point across…just in a more positive way.

Final Thoughts

As the saying goes, old habits die hard! And, unfortunately, for most parents, using negative language is a very old habit.

Right now, it may seem an impossible feat. You ask, repeat, remind, and yell, only to feel nothing but guilt a few moments later. “No,” “don’t,” and “can’t” are a few of your most-used vocabulary words, yet the power struggles remain.

But that’s the very reason why Positive Parenting Solutions came about in the first place! I wanted to meet parents right where they are–in the hardest of places–and give them hope for a brighter, more positive way to parent. 

Yes, you can empower your children with positive language! You can reduce the amount of misbehavior you see every day. And you absolutely can be the positive parent you’ve always dreamed of becoming.

We’re happy to help you every step of the way!

Does Paying Kids for Good Grades Pay Off?

young asian girl counting money at a computer deskyoung asian girl counting money at a computer desk

young asian girl counting money at a computer desk

Education is a gateway to success. It’s why parents in New York hire consultants for preschool. It’s why young kids in China are writing resumes. And it’s why American high school students fret over competitive college admissions. 

Parents know that the better the education, the greater their child’s success may be. They also know that numerous achievements, like a high GPA, can help secure that success. Some colleges even value a high GPA above all other application components. 

The importance of good grades can put a lot of pressure on students and their parents. Many families turn to monetary incentives like paying their kids to make those grades. (Or, like in recent news, there are the notorious and wealthy few willing to bribe administrators for admissions.) 

Offering a child fifty dollars in exchange for an excellent report card seems like a small price to pay for a child’s entire future.

But it’s not that simple. Paying for grades isn’t just a harmless means to an end that puts a little fun money in our kids’ pockets. 

Paying for grades actually robs kids of much greater wealth. It doesn’t matter whether your child is headed for preschool, community college, or the Ivy League: True, long-lasting success requires skills that money can’t buy.

Our Ultimate Guide to Motivating Your Kids takes money out of motivation with effective, long-term strategies. Start using them today!

Here are 6 reasons why paying for grades isn’t the best way to set our kids up for life-long success:

1. Payment Breeds Entitlement

You may be thinking that paying for grades, overall, can’t be that bad. If it gets your kids into college, where is the real harm? Maybe YOU were paid for grades and it worked well for you. Now, you want to pay it forward and invest in your children’s careers with a small down payment. Plus, young adults get paid for their work when they finally land jobs–so what’s the difference?

Before we continue, let me ask…Do you pay your kids to clean their rooms? To take out the trash? To take time out of playing to sit on the potty? 

Paying our kids for something that is a necessary part of life–including studying–is a dangerous game.

paying for grades robs children of greater wealth

Are you paid for tidying up the house? Making dinner for the family? Keeping the maintenance up on your car? Organizing the chauffeur schedule to get all the kids to their practices on time?

The truth is, certain things need to be done without compensation. Anything else is a path towards entitlement

The newest generations of young adults–Millennials and Gen Z-ers–are getting a bad rap. They have great skills, but some expect a lot in return. In many ways, this is good–like the fact that they’re forcing companies to create more balanced work-life environments. But in other ways, expectations can lean too much towards entitlement.

Studying may seem a lot like holding an actual job, complete with time-management and hard work. But the more our kids can do necessary work without applause–or a small paycheck–the more conditioned they’ll be for future jobs. They’ll exemplify a solid work ethic by caring about their efforts and self-improvement–and this will make them all the more successful.  

Their transition to the rest of the “real world” will also be less of a wake-up call. Just like us, our kids will never get paid for doing their taxes, cleaning the bathrooms, and raising their children (to name a few minor things).

2. Rewards Decrease Motivation

Some parents might argue that the last time their 6-year-old ate her asparagus, it was only because of the dessert she was promised. Or that their preteen–who hates his new braces–only smiled for the expensive family photoshoot because he was bribed with a new video game.

Yes, rewards DO motivate to some degree in the short-term–but this motivation isn’t sustainable. Kids will eventually want us to up the ante, which leads to increased bargaining and appeasement. One M&M will turn into 5. Ten dollars per ‘A’ will turn into twenty. 

Their motivation for a quick-fix is short-term and external rather than long-term and internal

Also, when we offer rewards, it sends our kids the message that we don’t have confidence they can achieve good grades without added incentive.

This is our cue for providing Encouragement. 

Encouragement is helping our kids feel empowered by their choices, like focusing on the effort they put into a grade. It can start small at first, like the extra fifteen minutes they spent studying the night before that helped bring their ‘D’ test score up to a ‘B’. 

“Your work earned you that ‘B’! You should feel really proud of the extra effort you put in!

This encouragement helps connect effort to results and gives kids a hit of confidence and power. 

Doling out encouragement isn’t the same as sugary compliments and unhelpful praise, like “you’re just so smart!” or “you’re so good at everything!” It may seem beneficial, but praise like this is just another reward in disguise.

Shallow praise makes kids feel good in the moment, but it also tells them they don’t need to try any harder because they’re already “on top.” Encouragement, on the other hand, focuses less on perfection and more on improvement. It also gives kids the confidence to move forward towards their next goals. 

Encouragement focuses on improvement quote

Pro Tip: For our Parenting Success System Members, please check out (or review) our Battle-Tested Blueprint, Say NO to Rewards and Praise and learn how to shift your language to empower your children.

3. Paying For Grades Deflects From Good Habits

Just like connecting good grades to effort, helping kids establish good study habits is a major advantage to their futures. 

Instead of promising your teen extra allowance for a successful semester, you can help him focus on developing a homework plan. This might include proper time management, the removal of distractions, and the use of a When-Then Routine.

When-Then Routines helps kids complete the less fun things before the more enjoyable parts of their day. 

You can say, “Emily, when you’ve finished studying for your test, then you can watch TV.” Or, When you’ve finished your project, then you can hang out with your friends.” The then isn’t a special privilege but rather a regularly enjoyed activity. Plus, if the When-Then becomes a routine standard, kids are even more likely to cooperate. 

Get ultimate guide to motivating kids

Effective studying is invaluable because it speeds up and simplifies the learning process. It shifts the focus from the grades themselves to the practice of studying. In this way, the letters on the report card aren’t the motivator. The routine and hard work put in each day (with a little dose of encouragement from you) are all your child needs to feel successful. 

On the other hand, the promise of money isn’t guaranteed to teach these habits–nor does earning an ‘A’ without a good amount of self-discipline. In fact, paying for grades can encourage kids to cut corners and cheat the system. 

Pro Tip: For Parenting Success System Members, review our Battle-Tested Blueprint, The 3 R’s of School Success. 

4. Rewards Foster Laziness, Lying, and Cheating

Often, our dear kids seem nothing but lazy. But there’s often a lot more to this than meets the eye. 

Most kids are bogged down with extracurricular activities and are in major need of extra sleep these days.

Many also fail to see the value of studying.

“Laziness may often be the result of there being too much of a disconnect between what a person is asked to do and why that task is important.” – Daniel Marsten, Ph.D., Psychology Today

Unless we help kids understand that studying is beneficial for more than just good grades, (like the development of life-long skills and the absorption of valuable and interesting information) they may be inclined to take short cuts. And promising fifty dollars for every ‘A’ (or whatever the current going rate is) further increases this short line approach. 

Because kids still want that money to fund their Spotify premium account and to purchase the latest and greatest ripped jeans.

Short cuts might include lying about a report card or exaggerating a ‘C’ on a history exam. Kids may even go so far as to cheat. This could be asking a friend to write an English paper for them or getting the answers to the chemistry test from a student who took it last year. 

Dangling rewards for good grades can lead kids towards unwise decisions. While all children need to make mistakes–like learning that lying or cheating never ends well–they can learn in less harmful ways.

5. We Should Avoid the Avoidance of Failure 

I get it–good grades are important. We don’t want to see our kids fail and we certainly don’t want to see that failure–in the form of ‘F’s, ‘D’s, and ‘C’s–threaten their future. 

Paying our kids for good grades may help them secure these grades, but allowing them to fail without added incentive is an even greater benefit. 

In a competitive world, kids aren’t always comfortable making mistakes. Or losing. Or even getting second place. But learning to embrace failure, learn from it, and pick back up again is an imperative skill. It’s a situation kids will find themselves in again and again in life, and letting them practice their resilience before they’re off on their own gives them an advantage. 

Childhood is the perfect time to let kids fail, because the older they get, the more will be at stake. A child with a safety net throughout childhood will fall much farther and harder as an adult than a child that’s allowed to fail. 

Kids need to know that if they don’t do their work, they’ll fail. They also need to know failure isn’t the end of the world. Finally, they need to realize that the real way to combat failure is to adapt and try again. 

Learning to recover from failure can shift a child’s mindset from “Working hard for a good grade isn’t worth the risk of getting a bad one” to “If I don’t do well, it’s okay. I’ll work even harder next time.”

6. We Want to Focus on the Journey–Not the Destination 

We all know the saying. You know, the one that reminds us to enjoy the process? To seize the day? It’s the advice that if we focus only on our end-goals, we overlook all the other special moments along the way. 

It’s just that it can be hard to hear “enjoy the journey” when the process is studying.

The thing is, though–it’s actually true. 

If kids respect, or dare I say, enjoy studying, they’ll be more willing to do it without a payoff.

We can help by trying to make learning interesting. Maybe it’s talking about the mind-bending theories of quantum physics (like the idea that one particle can be in two places at a time?! Hello, multiverse!) with otherwise boring physics homework. It could be going to see a funny, modern take on a Shakespearean play. Or, it could be teaching fractions while measuring the ingredients for homemade cookies.

Kids can still celebrate getting a good final grade, but we want them to feel inspired by the smaller, daily things they learn and experience along the way. 

Final Thoughts

It’s true that money can buy a lot. Having money equates to many advantages, and to a certain extent, we can’t live without it. We also need our kids to be financially independent one day. Good education and good jobs help make that happen. 

But let me ask you this: is focusing on a financial profit the message we want to send our kids? 

Instead, let’s teach our children that good grades are more than a means to an end and that studying can be both interesting and empowering. Let’s instill the fact that effective studying produces skills like hard work, determination, confidence, and a great set of habits–all of which enable and increase long-term success. 

As long as we provide an atmosphere of encouragement, and never bribery, our kids will be fortified by skills and motivations that are truly sustainable. 

And until we receive that first, jaw-dropping college tuition bill–it won’t cost us a single penny. 

Want more detailed tips and tricks? Check out Amy’s Ultimate Guide to Motivating Your Kids. You’ll learn how your language affects your child’s motivation and what steps YOU can take to increase their cooperation. 

Would you like verbal abuse with that? Teaching your teen to handle a difficult boss

A few weeks ago a question was asked on our Facebook page as to how to deal with your teen’s verbally abusive boss. This was a great question that I felt warranted an entire post to cover. The result of which is below. Thanks!

verbalabuseYou left the footnote off the month-end accounting report again, and your boss is managing everything except her temper. As an adult, you may be able to shrug it off, but what about when your teen burns the French fries on her Friday night shift, and her boss flips his lid? Unfortunately, some bosses don’t take their teenage employees as seriously as they should, and can turn constructive criticism into verbal abuse at the drop of a salt shaker. And when your teen is at the receiving end of a long string of swear words, it might be time for a career change.

Although our teens will be out on their own very soon, it’s still our job to offer plenty of support as they enter the working world. Teaching positive job skills and professionalism now will really help them down the road as they advance from car washer to computer engineer. And one of the first lessons should be how to deal with a tough boss–and when to say enough is enough. Read More

When Rewards Become Expected -What Are You Teaching?

Here’s a question we often field from parents:

“Should we continue to REWARD positive behavior once that behavior becomes “expected?”

That’s not a one-stop-shop answer.

Here’s the first part of the answer:

Ditch the rewards!  I encourage you to STOP USING REWARDS as a way to motivate behavior. Truly.

Rewards like stickers, candy, money, or treats for positive behaviors create an uncomfortable, problem-laced “what’s in it for me” attitude.” If that’s not bad enough, there’s an ever-growing body of research that spotlights that using rewards actually
DECREASES the child’s interest in continuing that behavior.

So – what to do?

Here’s an idea: Instead of using external REWARDS – use ENCOURAGEMENT!

The difference? External rewards create a dependence on the reward for the child to continue the behavior.  As the parent, you’ll have to continually dangle the latest and greatest carrot to keep the good stuff going.

Encouragement motivates children from the “inside” and helps them feel capable and empowered.

Think conversations like:

Wow – you’re getting more independent every day!

You are really growing up and showing us how much you can do all by yourself.

I know you’ve worked on that and it shows!  

The research by Alfie Kohn and others show that conversations that focus on effort, improvement and progress towards a goal create and sustain INTERNAL motivation. Long-term growth. Real change.

As opposed to external REWARDS, which categorically show that when the reward goes away – so does the motivation for the behavior.

Part two of the question… 

“What about when the behavior becomes “expected” – is encouragement still required?”

The answer is “YES!!!!!!!”

Even when behaviors are “expected” or “routine” – everyone wants to feel appreciated and encouraged. Think of using statements such as:

I really appreciate how much you do to help the family.

When you do _____, that’s one job that I don’t have to do.

I love how we are all working together as a family.

There is magic in those words.

They provide the reinforcement your child needs to stick with those positive actions or behaviors.  But, they also contribute to his or her sense of personal power and connection within your family.

Everyone wants to feel appreciated. Kids, partners, friends, family members – we all thrive on encouragement. Use it liberally. It is an extraordinary lesson to teach our children by example.

Ever struggle to get your kids to do their chores or homework without resorting to threats or bribes? 

Join Amy McCready for a FREE online class: Get Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling

It will be the best hour you spend all month!