How to Reward Children for Good Behavior Without Bribes

By Melissa Willets
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Bribing in only one way to reward good behavior, and telling your child he can have a cookie if he puts his toys away is different from recognizing his cooperation with affection and praise. After all, it's wise to steer clear of bribing your tot. As points out, kids who always get something for being good grow to expect it.

Step 1

Reward with words. Praising your child for good behavior can be as rewarding as gifts, if not more so. Saying something like "I'm so proud of you" does wonders to boost your kiddo's self-esteem, KidsHealth reports.

Step 2

Praise repeatedly. Ask Dr. Sears notes that using praise to reward a child is especially effective if he is working to improve a specific behavior, such as sharing. Each time your tyke lets her sister have a turn with a favorite toy, be sure to say something like "Great job sharing, honey."

Step 3

Reward through affection. Kids desire their parents' attention and approval. A simple hug for helping to clean up without being asked or a high five for brushing teeth without a fight are ways to show your child you are happy with his behavior -- no bribes involved.

Step 4

Focus on nonmaterial rewards. Don't tell your tot he can get a toy if he stays quiet while you are on the phone. Instead, promise special time together at the park or building a pillow fort. Quality time with a parent is often the thing kids wants most.

Step 5

Employ a reward chart. Ask Dr. Sears notes that using a chart to track the progress of your child's behavior works well because it's on display for the entire family to see. This approach is effective if you want your child to improve a specific behavior, such as talking back.

Step 6

Help your child work toward a goal. The reward chart is a great way to track long-term improvement. Each time your kiddo speaks to you in an appropriate manner, she gets a sticker on her chart. Perhaps after earning a certain number of stickers, she gets to stay up a little late one night or have a friend over. This is not so much a bribe as a motivator to be good.

About the Author

Melissa Willets has been writing about parenting, pregnancy and "all things mom" since 2009. She has contributed to many websites, including and