This week we had a major accomplishment in our house—Jordan completed the 100th (and final) lesson in his reading lesson book! Yay! He was so incredibly proud of himself, and naturally I was proud of him as well. After all, we started out with much groaning, kicking, and screaming, but managed to end up months (and months) later with an emergent reader. Of course we made a big deal about it! Jordan was just beaming all day. I wanted to do something special for him to reward him for his hard work, and come up with a list of ideas for the next time I need a fitting reward for a job well done.
Here is my brainstormed list of ways I can reward and honor my children for their accomplishments. Some of these things we do already, some are new ideas for me. Of course, generous amounts of verbal praise are always in order, but sometimes I want to do something even more tangible. I hope some of these ideas will be useful to you, as well.
Celebrating Our Children's Accomplishments
1. Giving a small trinket or toy—We keep a “treasure chest” at our house that I fill with inexpensive little trinkets-decorated pencils, shaped erasers, little notepads, and toys like bouncy balls and foam airplanes purchased cheaply from Oriental Trading Company or the like. Okay, I’ll admit I keep this around mainly for bribery of the preschoolers—but it also makes a handy reward for those times when you catch one of them being particularly nice to another, or (more rarely) doing a chore without being asked.
2. Picking a favorite meal—Our children have several favorite meals and desserts that I almost always keep the ingredients on hand for. Letting one of them choose dinner and/or dessert, and better yet letting them help prepare it, is a great reward for them.
3. Getting out of their chores for a day—This, of course, means a little extra work for ME, but the boys see this as a great privilege! (It’s perceived as an even greater reward when, instead of Mom doing the chores, they get assigned to a sibling. Of course, that’s beyond the scope of this list, and may make a later list of “Extremely Effective Consequences for Being Mean to Your Brother." ;)
4. Choosing a favorite activity for a family time together—Whether it’s a favorite movie (complete with popcorn!) or their current board game of choice, they love the honor of choosing what we do for family night.
5. A special outing with Dad or Mom—ALL of our boys love to go out one-on-one with Mom or Dad! We’ve done this as involved as going out for a meal or an event together to as simple as grabbing an ice cream cone or a walk to the park. Daddy has even been known to take a boy to work with him, if his schedule permits and that boy is completely caught up on his school work.
6. Extra TV, video game, or computer time—Easy, free, and a HUGE favorite of our media-lovin’ boys, especially since their more responsible parents severely limit their access. (the HORROR!)
7. Staying up later to play a game or something with Dad and Mom—another treat that the older boys enjoy, especially if they can play a game that we can’t usually play because it is too “old” for the little guys.
8. Learn a new skill—Jon loves to learn to cook new things. Joshua loves to learn new crafts. These can work out to be very beneficial for me as well…Jonathan was excited beyond belief last week over learning how to clean the bathroom. (And no, I didn’t artificially build it up to sound like great fun! Even I couldn’t do THAT with a straight face!) It’s now his weekly job, and he does it well and loves it!
9. A special coupon book—I haven’t tried this yet, but I want to. I’m thinking of a simple little printed booklet with some of the above-mentioned ideas in it in coupon form. This would be a reward for a major accomplishment or character trait over time.
10. A gift card—For a small amount to a store they either like or is related to the reason for the reward—This is what we ended up doing for Jordan’s accomplishment. Since we’re celebrating the fact that he finished his reading book, we gave him a $10 gift card to Borders to buy a new book of his very own. He is excited to be able to use it, and keeps calling it his very own “credit card!”
Now don’t get me wrong, we do some of these things “just because” as well—our children don’t have to perform in order for us to do nice things for them. But one of my goals as a parent is to encourage my children to have good character and to always do their best. Rewarding their efforts goes a long way towards molding them into the excellent young adults we hope they will become.
What do you do to celebrate your children’s accomplishments? I’d love to have you comment with your ideas!