Should You Give Rewards Equally?

The following parent tip is brought to you by The National Center for Biblical Parenting:

Rewards can be helpful at times to encourage growth in character. If you have a daughter who continually interrupts, you may focus on the character quality of thoughtfulness. You may teach her a how to interrupt respectfully so that whenever she feels like interrupting, instead of just talking, she puts her hand on your arm as a signal that she wants to talk. You might then put your hand on her hand indicating that you have "heard" her and that you will allow her to speak in just a moment. It's a great technique to teach thoughtfulness. What if the child is still having a hard time not interrupting? You may try a reward to raise the motivation for your daughter and get her over the initial hump to learn a new pattern. 

Be sure though as you work with habits of behavior like this you're also talking about the heart. "I appreciate the way you're becoming more thoughtful." Or, "We're doing this to help you develop self control.”

Sometimes parents struggle because when they reward one child, they feel they need to reward all their children. Should you reward one child when you don't reward the other? This thought comes from the belief that fair means equal. Children often point out what they view to be inequity in a situation and call that unfair. But children are all unique. Each child has different strengths and weaknesses, and should be treated uniquely. Parents get into real trouble when they try to treat all their kids equally. 

Teach your children that you don't even try to treat them the same. If a brother sees his sister receiving a reward, and he wants one too, then you might say, "Your sister is working on something in her life and the reward is for her progress and effort. If you want to work on a character quality in your life, let me know and I'll think of a reward for you too." Don't be motivated by the "It's not fair" complaint. That's just an indication that children don't understand what fairness really is.

Fairness treats all children according to their needs, which usually isn't equal. Each child needs to feel loved and cared for. Each child needs to work on particular issues. Focus on each of your children as individuals and reward them according to their needs.

For more information about developing character qualities in your children consider, Motivate Your Child Action Plan by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.