“But you said I could have the new Wii Game, Mum!” “If you don’t get a move on you won’t get your special treat.”


How many times have we heard, and probably even said that to our children – usually in a moment of desperation when they just won’t get their shoes on and we need to be in school in five minutes flat?

Unfortunately, this is bribery and not rewarding. We are giving them something in the heat of the moment to get them to do what we want.

This scenario can become ­­a rod for parents’ backs as they end up having to promise bigger and better to get a reaction instantly. Bribery is done to get kids to comply instantly. Rewarding is discussed in advance of a particular situation and a child understands that if they behave in a particular way, they are rewarded.

For example, they know in advance that not screaming when asked to hold their hand to cross the road will result in a reward, if they manage to do it consistently. But what makes a good reward?

Pocket money toys are fantastic for rewards, anything from a mini LEGO figure to a pack of Moshi Monsters – depending on how much you might be willing to spend.

Collectables are a big hit here, with kids and parents alike. They are often a low cost item, which kids just keep coming back for more of. A win-win for everyone. Combining spending time with the kids and rewarding them is an excellent choice too. Board games really come into their own here.

Playing some of the fabulous Orchard Toy games, such as Slug in a Jug or Shopping List gives great one-on-one time for families and are educational to boot. Sneakily, this means that rewarding children at the same time as educating them is going hand-in-hand.

Craft kits have an educational element, and allow families to get stuck in. Some of the Galt range is perfect as a treat on a cold, Sunday afternoon.

Jigsaws can make good rewards too and encourage co-operation as a family, and also offer children a sense of achievement on completion. These are all small, simple gifts, some below the magic £5 level. We are, unfortunately, always being encouraged to spend more and buy bigger to reward our kids for their achievements. Keeping budgets down should be a priority for parents, and for the industry. Creating lower cost toys, with good margins for manufacturers, should be on all well-known brands wish-lists to help make parents lives easier.

Of course more units need shifting to make it worthwhile for the toy companies’ CEOs to get out of bed, but pocket money, pester power, and bribery reward bargaining will then come into their own. After all, the kids rule the world, don’t they?

Joking aside, it’s not necessary to shower kids with presents as soon as they learn to tie their shoelaces, or stop taking a lump out of their sibling. Everything must be in proportion and personalised for the child. Sometimes a trip to the local toy store to choose a simple toy, a smiley sticker, or just a little bit of extra time playing with toys already owned can work as a reward just as well. It doesn’t have to be the latest Wii game after all, and the more lower cost items as choices the better.

Check out more from Helen Neale and KiddyCharts online; the parenting blog that offers personalised kids charts too: www.kiddycharts.com, on Facebook www.facebook.com/kiddycharts and on Twitter @kiddycharts.

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