Have you thanked your kids today? Sometimes I forget. So I got inspired by a smart teacher, and came up with some tangible little ways to show my kids that I appreciate their efforts and motivate them to make more good choices at the same time.
I’ve seen a few versions of classroom behavior reward coupons floating around blogland lately. If you’re teaching, check this one out. I love it because it recognizes kids for making good choices and it motivates them with easy no-cost items or experiences to celebrate their good “bee”havior.
Everyone knows that incentive systems are a second choice option for encouraging good behavior. In a perfect world, (or classroom, or home) kids are intrinsically motivated. They make great choices because they are personally motivated to make great choices. (Not because they want a pencil or a new video game.) Reward coupon systems are still extrinsic motivators, but offering simple experiences as rewards somehow makes the whole system feel more more like you’re celebrating good behavior by enjoying fun activities as a class or as a family. It feels a bit less “bribey” and lots more fun.
I thought I’d try this idea at home to help me remember to say thank you more often, and see if it would motivate my kids to make extra peaceful, smart and helpful choices. I made up some little thank you notes to hand out when they do something particularly praiseworthy. Like many parents, I sometimes feel like I focus too much on pointing out negative behaviors and I forget to recognize the great ones. Now when I see my little jar of cards, I’m better at remembering to “catch” my kids being good. Since the cards are handy and ready to go, I can quickly pass my son a note right after he helps his brother clean up or when he resists the urge to yell when his block tower gets knocked down.
So far the boys like the thank you cards. They’re a simple and tangible reminder of the good choices they make. They’re starting to re-read the old ones and notice a pattern. For example, one son tends to get a lot of notes about solving problems. The other son has received recognition for making our home more peaceful. Over time, when they look back at their cards, they’ll really be able to see which good behaviors come more naturally and which behaviors take more effort for them. Also because they’re competitive, each of my older sons wants to find ways to get more cards then his brother.
I also made the reward cards pictured above. I planned to put them in a jar and let my kids pick their favorite reward when they earn five thank you notes. Unfortunately when they got to five, I forgot to let them pick a reward. Oops! Fortunately though, for now the thank you notes alone seem to be enough motivation. I’ll add the prize feature in later to spice things up when the novelty of wears off.
If you want your own copy of these Yay for You thank you cards and reward coupons, CLICK HERE.