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
- Ice Cream Sundaes
- Bake Donuts
- Let your child choose their favorite breakfast cereal
- Bake a Cake
- Your child can choose a restaurant for dinner
- Pick up some Hot Cocoa at the local coffee shop
- Tiny Candies
- Let them choose / pack their own lunch for school
- Add sprinkles to their peanut butter toast
- Visit a sweet shop
- Make cinnamon rolls
- Candy Bar
- Cocoa Bombs
- Make Rice Krispie Treats
- Let them choose which veggies to add to dinner
- Fruit Smoothies
- Make popsicles from juice
- Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Granola Bar
- Cheese Stick
Sensory Reward Ideas for Kids
- Get moving with Indoor Exercises!
- Play in the Dirt
- 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)
- Get creative with some rock painting.
- Listen to an Audiobook
- Go on a nature walk
- Build with blocks
- Foot rub
- Sing a song
- Go on a special drive
- Visit the Beach
- Body Squeezes
- Cuddle on the Couch
- Play with their hair
- Play with a sensory bin
- Bake bread (an example of tactile, olfactory and gustatory sensory input)
- Watch a video together
- Play with a water table
Social Rewards / Reinforcers
- High five
- Secret handshake
- Play with them with their favorite toys
- Read a book to them
- Color with your Child
- Verbal praise
- Sharing your pride with others “Did you hear how great Sara did when she mowed the lawn?”
- Facetime a family member
- Go over some emotions flashcards and have a chat about feelings
- Plan a playdate
- Sing a silly song
- Make up a story
- Visit the library
- Offer to have a friend spend the night
- Play one of their favorite waiting games
- Meet friends at the park
Using Activities as Reward
- A trip to the pancake house
- Walk to the park
- Create a garden
- Visit a museum
- See the circus perform
- Go on a walk
- Watch a movie
- Go skateboarding
- Build a Lego kit together (I like this Harry Potter one)
- Get crafting! Pull out your craft supplies and get creative together
- A trip to the zoo
- A bubble bath
- Walk around the farmers’ market
- Visit the toy store
- Go on a hike
- Watch a play
- Try out a new science experiment together
- Make playdough
- Have a dance party
- Paint their nails
Tangible Reward Ideas
- A new card game like Uno
- A sweet treat
- They get to choose what cereal is purchased
- Star on their chart
- Make bathtime extra special- Get some Bath Bombs
- New art supplies
- X amount of extra time on an electronic device
- Let them choose new nail polish colors
- A special App
- A new book
- Yoga Cards to get out the wiggles
- A new backpack
- Some hair accessories
- Let them pick out a new coloring book
- A trip to grandparents’ house
- Visit the pet store to look at the fish
- A crafting kit
- Horse riding lessons
- An outdoor toy like a new playground
- A new outfit
- Temporary tattoos
- Sports ball to encourage more play outside
Download your List of Rewards for Kids!