Using rewards to control behaviour is a common occurence in society: parents reward children for behaving well; teachers reward students for outstanding work; employers reward employees for a job well done; and governments reward model citizens.
My earliest happy memories were those of receiving rewards at school. Nowadays, as a parent and a teacher, I myself use them. Even my children receive rewards at their school. And so, the cycle of reward giving continues.
But, rewards don’t always work. Sometimes people just don’t want the reward because it doesn’t provide enough motivation for them to act. At other times, after they have received their reward, they revert back to their previous behaviour. So what do you do when you dangle what you think is a cool reward for them but they don’t react or it didn’t change their behaviour?
It’s quite frustrating! It happened to me many times with my students and my children. If this happened to you too then you know that you’re at the end of your rope because you can’t think of any other way to get them to act or change their behaviour. You could end up losing control of the situation and your authority.
Don’t despair! I have good news. Rewards do work if you use them correctly. You need to have all four of these steps to have an effective tangible reward:
1. Tell them in advance that they will receive the reward – not after. It’s no use if you close the stable doors once the horse has bolted.
2. Make the reward specific to the action or behaviour. They have to get the reward for doing this thing that you set for them and not for something else related.
3. Give the reward for performing the set action or behaviour at a high level. It won’t work if they just go through the motion just to be seen doing it or just to get it done.
4. Make the reward related to the set action or behaviour. The reward has to match the behaviour.
To read more on tangible rewards, read my article at ezinearticles.
Tangible rewards is only one part of a reward system. The other parts of a reward system include verbal rewards and supportive environments. If you put in place all of the above four steps then you will have an effective tangible system that will work but you can’t use tangible rewards all of the time. You need to wisely choose when to offer tangible rewards, when to offer verbal rewards and when to just provide supportive environments.