Parenting: Creating Rewards & Consequences from Thin Air

Creating Rewards and Consequences from Thin Air

Doling out rewards and consequences to a deserving child can be a daunting task. Parents need to be patient, reasonable, and a bit creative when it comes to this step in the discipline process. The opportunity to make a lasting impression can disappear faster than a glazed donut sitting in a teacher’s lounge.

The art of inventing rewards and consequences is a skill that parents can master in a relatively short period of time. It can also be utilized with great effectiveness.

Here is a basic explanation:

Inventing Rewards

Let’s say you just came home from a long day at work and all you can think about is ordering a pizza and relaxing in front of the TV before going to bed. As you arrive home, you happen to notice that your twelve year-old daughter has cleaned her room without being asked and has already completed her homework (which isn’t usually done until much later).

You already planned to order pizza for dinner but now it can be used as a reward. Even though she was already going to get pizza for dinner, you can acknowledge her responsibility then “reward” her with pizza for dinner. Simply tell her something like this…

“Wow, I am impressed…not only is your room clean, but your homework is done too! I think I’ll order us some pizza for dinner. You deserve it!”

Not only did you do what you were already going to do, but now it is actually perceived as a reward. You’ve just killed two birds with one stone.

You have just invented a reward out of nothing at all.

Inventing Consequences

Let’s use the example above, only this time when you get home your daughter is talking on the phone and has left a huge mess in the kitchen. When you ask her to pick up her mess, she gives you a dirty look then continues with her phone conversation.

When she hangs up the phone, you may want to invent a consequence by telling her something like this…

“Wow, I’m really sorry about the way you ignored my instructions when I asked you to clean up after yourself. I was planning to go to the mall and was hoping you would want to go, but now I think I’ll just stay home and order some pizza. You can have some of the leftovers in the fridge.”

You have just invented a consequence.

In both scenarios, you did what you were already going to do.