When Should you Reward your Kids?

Do you reward children for good results?

Do you reward your children for achievements, and if so, which ones?

As with most parenting issues, I veer from being 100% certain that I’ve got it sussed, and realising I have precisely zero idea what’s the right thing to do.

I want to motivate and recognise when Flea has worked hard. I don’t want to create a monster who is so spoiled she won’t do anything without my dangling a carrot (or a Jack Wills sweater) in front of her.

This past few months, Flea’s worked really hard at school.

Last week, she came home and told me she’s taken a fitness test at school, and moved up 10 levels from where she ranked when she took the same test in September. She’s also been promoted from the hockey B team to the A team.

I’m so proud of Flea.

She came from a primary school where sport was very much the preserve of “sporty” kids. Even the after-school clubs were selective. And Flea definitely wasn’t one of the kids who was selected (don’t get me started on this particular issue, I might still be ranting this time next week).

Academically she’s been working hard. After flunking a maths test badly last term, she’s pulled her socks up and scored a great mark in her maths assessment this term. In history, she managed to score full marks in one test, and only missed one question in the second. She’d gone into school early to study in the library to make sure she was prepared.


I feel like I want to recognise these achievements – and the fact that Flea has worked hard to get them is just as important.

She might still not be the fittest kid in her class, but she’s made a huge improvement against her own previous performance, which surely counts for a lot?

On the other hand, I want Flea to feel that working hard at school is what she should be aiming for all the time. That success is its own reward.

I’d love to know from other parents – how do you reward you kids for strong results and achievements? Do you have a sliding scale? Do you focus on effort, or achievement?

Is a sincere, “Well done – I’m proud of you,” reward enough?

6 thoughts on “When Should you Reward your Kids?”

  1. Great post, I’ll be interested to hear what people recommend. My two are a lot younger and I’m not really sure if I’d say we reward them or not. We always make it clear when we’re proud of the way they’ve behaved, and they do have treats but I’m not sure we really say that the treats are for behaviour or achievements. I guess maybe we will as they get older though.

  2. Definitely thought provoking. What happens if your child is just not academic and flunks every single test but you know that they are trying their best every single time? When do those children get the reward? The same goes if you have an A* student that naturally excels at everything they do. Would you reward them for everything, or nothing? I think quite often just saying ‘I’m proud of you’ is enough. Proud of you for passing, for winning, for succeeding or just for trying their best.

  3. It is so difficult to know when and how to reward. Especially with two of differing ages, as they both want praise & rewards, but can’t always understand why they are not received in the same way.
    We try to look at behaviours. If effort and time has been invested, whatever the outcome, that is success in my books.

    Lisa @ Wonderling

  4. i say yes to rewards but for EFFORT not achievement (because they can always make more effort) so the going in to the library to study for example way more praise then the results but definitely link the two. Absolutely praise and reward effort if you want too for if you font who will right?

  5. I must confess to bribery on all sorts of things. Right now I pay her for extra music practices. She’s getting double reward, because she’s noticing how much better she’s playing, and how much happier her teachers are with her. I’m also paying her 20p every time I ask if her blood sugar levels are stable, dropping, or rising. It’s an odd concept, but apparently it’s possible to train your mind to notice blood sugar changes, rather than rely on the tech until it’s too late. When she was 3 I paid her to stay in bed longer in the mornings! I’ve actually never rewarded her for success at school. Unless you count taking her out for ice cream when SATs were finished. (All her mates got iphones for doing their SAT’s – imagine what they’ll get for getting through GCSE’s!)

    So in summary, reward for effort and improvement here, not for doing what’s expected of you, or for somehow acing a test.

  6. I think that so much effort would deserve a reward, after all we would reward ourselves if we got a promotion for example, a meal out or a few drinks etc.. Maybe you could do a day out or trip together instead of a sweater it somehow seems less rewardish but still an acknowledgment of her efforts. Great post, I do often have the same dilemma, when does it become more bribery to do something and less of a reward to celebrate something if you know what I mean.

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