Kid pointing to different reward ideas
Behavior,  Parenting

(PDF) 101 Reward Ideas for Kids & Tips to Identify Most Effective Rewards

Reward Ideas for Kids: In this post, you will learn how to choose effective rewards for kids, and you will be able to download a FREE PDF with 101 fun reward ideas for kids

A reward is something given in recognition of one’s service, effort, or achievement.

For kids, in educational environments, at therapeutic programs, and at home, it is often used as a lay term for reinforcement or positive reinforcement. 

Positive reinforcement occurs when a behavior is followed immediately by the presentation of a stimulus (reinforcer) and, as a result, similar responses occur more frequently in the future.

An example: Your child cleans up the table, and you immediately praise their effort. As a result, your child is more likely to clean up the table next time you finish dinner.

A “reward” is a simple yet powerful tool for behavior modification.  Rewards are the reinforcer that will make more frequent the behavior we are trying to promote. In our previous example, praising was the reward.

How to Choose Effective Rewards

These are some tips to help you choose great rewards to increase the frequency of desired behaviors at home or school:

  • Ask your child 
    It sounds simple, but sometimes we struggle to come up with reward ideas, and our kids are quite clear about what items or activities would be motivating.
  • Offer choices or a list of options
    If your child finds it difficult to express his preference, you can:
    a) give them choices “Would you prefer to work for two songs on your IPad or a head massage?”
    b) offer a list of reward options and ask them to rank them. 
  • The method above is not fail-proof. Even when your child chooses a reward, it may still not work as a reinforcer. It doesn’t mean reinforcing a behavior doesn’t work. You may need to try different reinforcers.
  • Make sure your child only has access to that reward if the behavior happens. It doesn’t work as a motivator if they can find other ways to access that reward.
  • The reward needs to be motivating at the time you expect the behavior to happen.
    If you offer an edible treat to your child when he has just had afternoon tea, it may not work as a good reinforcer.

Related Reading ⇒ how to implement a reward system for kids.

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101 Reward Ideas for Kids

You may be feeling you get stuck always offering the same few rewards to your child. 

This list of reward ideas may help you with the task:

Edible Reward Ideas

  1. Ice Cream Sundaes
  2. Bake Donuts
  3. Let your child choose their favorite breakfast cereal
  4. Bake a Cake
  5. Your child can choose a restaurant for dinner
  6. Pick up some Hot Cocoa at the local coffee shop
  7. Tiny Candies
  8. Let them choose / pack their own lunch for school
  9. Add sprinkles to their peanut butter toast
  10. Visit a sweet shop
  11. Make cinnamon rolls
  12. Candy Bar
  13. Cocoa Bombs
  14. Make Rice Krispie Treats
  15. Let them choose which veggies to add to dinner
  16. Fruit Smoothies
  17. Make popsicles from juice
  18. Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies
  19. Granola Bar
  20. Cheese Stick

 Sensory Reward Ideas for Kids

  1. Get moving with Indoor Exercises!
  2. Play in the Dirt
  3. Have a special dessert (I could have added this one to the edible reward list, but I wanted to include an example of  gustatory sensory input)
  4. Get creative with some rock painting
  5. Listen to an Audiobook
  6. Go on a nature walk
  7. Build with blocks
  8. Foot rub
  9. Sing a song
  10. Go on a special drive
  11. Visit the Beach
  12. Body Squeezes
  13. Hand-holding
  14. Cuddle on the Couch
  15. Backrub
  16. Play with their hair
  17. Play with a sensory bin
  18. Bake bread (an example of tactile, olfactory and gustatory sensory input)
  19. Watch a video together
  20. Play with a water table

 Social Rewards / Reinforcers

  1. High five
  2. Hug
  3. Secret handshake
  4. Play with them with their favorite toys
  5. Read a book to them
  6. Color with your Child
  7. Applause
  8. Verbal praise
  9. Sharing your pride with others “Did you hear how great Sara did when she mowed the lawn?”
  10. Facetime a family member
  11. Go over some emotions flashcards and have a chat about feelings
  12. Plan a playdate
  13. Sing a silly song
  14. Make up a story
  15. Visit the library
  16. Offer to have a friend spend the night
  17. Play one of their favorite waiting games
  18. Meet friends at the park

Using Activities as Reward

  1. A trip to the pancake house
  2. Walk to the park
  3. Create a garden
  4. Visit a museum
  5. See the circus perform
  6. Go on a walk
  7. Watch a movie
  8. Go skateboarding
  9. Build a Lego kit together (I like this Harry Potter one)
  10. Get crafting! Pull out your craft supplies and get creative together
  11. A trip to the zoo
  12. A bubble bath
  13. Walk around the farmers’ market
  14. Visit the toy store
  15. Go on a hike
  16. Watch a play
  17. Try out a new science experiment together
  18. Make playdough
  19. Have a dance party
  20. Paint their nails

 Tangible Reward Ideas

  1. A new card game like Uno
  2. A sweet treat
  3. They get to choose what cereal is purchased
  4. Stickers
  5. Star on their chart
  6. Make bathtime extra special- Get some Bath Bombs
  7. New art supplies
  8. X amount of extra time on an electronic device
  9. Let them choose new nail polish colors
  10. A special App
  11. A new book
  12. Yoga Cards to get out the wiggles
  13. A new backpack
  14. Some hair accessories
  15. Let them pick out a new coloring book
  16. A trip to grandparents’ house
  17. Visit the pet store to look at the fish
  18. A crafting kit
  19. Horse riding lessons
  20. An outdoor toy like a new playground
  21. A new outfit
  22. Temporary tattoos
  23. Sports ball to encourage more play outside

Download your List of Rewards for Kids!

PDF List of Reward Ideas for Kids



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