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  • Writer's pictureHannah's Hope

Incentivizing Behavior

Shawna Wingert created Different by Design Learning to encourage and lift the spirits of her readers by highlighting the messiness of homeschooling, motherhood, and being a parent to a child with differing abilities. She wrote "Is It A Reward or Bribe? How Do I Motivate My Child?" to focus on the necessity of understanding how encouraging your child can be done without bribery. With a story of her own personal experience in which a mother she knew struggled to find a solution for her child to take his medicine, she points out that "the line between spoiling and accommodating our children's needs is a tough one." The line between bribery and reward is similar in the sense that everyone has their own definition and opinion about what the two things look like. Some may think that offering your child money or screen time to take a medication is enabling and coddling. Wingert's son participated in a program where the parents were encouraged to come up with new and inventive ways for rewarding their children whenever they completed a difficult task; the parents freaked out. What the therapist in charge of the program shared with them, however, was that "A bribe is something you offer your child to stop a negative behavior. A reward is something you offer your child to encourage positive behavior." The realization then became that, often, parents are so concerned about making the wrong decision for their child that they forget the struggles that their child faces every day. Rewards are not a bad thing, they are actually a way to motivate and encourage your child to accomplish the tasks everyday that make them uncomfortable or cause them some discomfort. Parenting that encourages positive behavior and team work better prepares children to cope on their own in the future. The need for rewards will not last forever, but establishing that connection and providing time for positive parenting will continuously benefit your relationship with your child.

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