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​​​​Toddler email series Issue12345

Making Rewards Valuable

Scarcity drives value. This is a time-honored maxim in business and it should achieve a ​similar status for parents raising young children.

For example, if you're looking for ways to motivate your toddler to exhibit positive behavior (or refrain from negative behaviors such as biting or hitting), you can offer him or her the reward of spending extra time with you, reading a book or playing a game. But rewards such as these should be given sparingly, and only when the child exhibits positive behavior. In this way, scarcity drives value in the child's mind, which will provide added incentive to exhibit positive behavior.

The scarcity/value concept doesn't necessarily mean that Brussels sprouts will become your child's favorite food if you substantially reduce their availability, but it does mean that the value children place on things they do like will increase.

There are other easier and much more obvious examples where parents can apply the principle of scarcity to determine value. For example, for younger children, bedtime is a limit on their personal freedom that they virtually always want extended. To create a large batch of free rewards, parents merely need to establish an early and firm bedtime that is an hour or so earlier than the latest one the parents could actually accept. Then the time between the established bedtime and the later bedtime becomes batches of minutes (e.g., 15-minute units) parents can use as rewards.

As the child grows older, parents can use this same strategy by surveying his or her daily landscape for goods, services and privileges (curfews, snacks, video game privileges, etc.), and then make them less available, thereby increasing their value and enlarging their potential role as motivating rewards.

Sometimes in running a home well, parents find that using well-established business principles can pay big dividends.

Teaching Activity

Catch Them Being Good

Catch Them Being Good. We often spend so much time calling out the bad behaviors that we forget to recognize and praise the good ones. This week your activity is to try and catch your toddler being good and praise them immediately. It doesn't have to be big events, it can be as simple as getting their socks on right when you asked or it could be petting the dog with appropriate touches. Tell them what they did was good! Give them a big hug or a high five. Teach them that good behavior equals praise and some times rewards. For some advice on how to pick good rewards, watch our video: Rewards for Good Behavior

Social Skills

Accepting Compliments

During your teaching activity you should be giving a lot of praise, your child will need to learn how to accept your compliments, here's how:

  • Look at the person who is complimenting you.
  • Use a pleasant tone of voice.
  • Thank the person sincerely for the compliment.
  • Say "Thanks for noticing" or "I appreciate that".
  • Avoid looking away, mumbling, or denying the compliment.

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