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How To Appropriately Utilize Rewards and Punishments

Many parents have reported that in order to reduce power struggles in the home, there needs to be some sort of solution focused perspective. Concentrating on solutions creates a very different family dynamic. If your own thinking and behavior will change, so will the thinking and behavior of your children. 

The theme for focusing on solutions is: What is the problem and what is the solution? Children are excellent problem solvers and have many creative ideas for helpful solutions when adults provide opportunities for them to use those skills.


-Do not set unrealistic goals or make the goal too lofty.  This will set your child up to fail.

-Make the reward something your child desires.  A new pair of shoes or socks is probably not the best reward.

-Rewards should be given regularly and consistently.  Instead of offering big rewards, try offering smaller rewards for your child as they complete steps toward larger goals.

-Always follow through!  If you say you’re going to do it, you better!

-Be clear about the requirements and the reward itself.  It’s likely your idea of a clean room is different than your child’s.

-Do not take any reward away that has already been earned.  If your child earns a reward, then gets into trouble for something else, don’t take away what has already been allocated.


-Create clearly defined rules and punishments.  Children have a difficult time understanding a long or complex list of rules.

-Don’t overdo it.  Many parents have a habit of dishing out extreme punishments when they’re upset.  Don’t ground your child for a month when you’re really upset only to come back week later and end the punishment early.  Be consistent, but not too harsh!

-Take away privileges instead of using corporal punishment.  Children who learn corporal punishment learn that hitting and violence are appropriate responses to their problems.  

-Never use emotional punishment as humiliation.  Do not shame or humiliate children because this can do irreversible damage.

-Talk to your child about being punished and why.  Help them understand a strategy to deal with the situation differently in the future.

For more information on mental health, parenting, or any other issue, we are here for you! Please do not hesitate to reach out to Amy Wine Counseling Center at 832.421.8714 for questions or to make an appointment. We are all in this together!


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