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Easy rewards and motivation without food


Ideas to help motivate children with rewards that are not food.

Why are rewards important?

Rewards for children can be used for motivation and to encourage positive behaviours. They can be used to reinforce good behaviour, such as sitting at the table to eat, choosing healthy snacks or sticking to lifestyle goals.

Rewards do not have to be expensive or time consuming. Small gestures can have big results.

You may want to use a reward for one single thing such as trying a new vegetable. Or you may want to save up the reward to give at the end of the week for doing something an agreed number of times.

For example, you may agree at the start of the week that you will go for a family walk for one hour 3 times that week. If that happens, you can give your child their reward. If you are using a tick or sticker chart, this in itself is a reward each time they get a tick and get closer to their target.

Below are some ideas for rewards, but be creative and choose what suits your child and family.

  1. Read a book together
  2. Play a game together
  3. Invite a friend over to play
  4. Build a fort out of boxes and blankets
  5. Visit family or friends
  6. Go swimming together
  7. Visit their favourite park or playground
  8. Watch a film together
  9. Buy some stickers or a sticker book
  10. Let them choose a magazine or book to read
  11. Buy a small toy such as pavement chalk, bubbles or key chain
  12. Give them temporary stick on tattoos
  13. Have a dance party at home and let your child choose the songs
  14. Do a craft such as finger painting or make a sign for their bedroom door
  15. Go to a museum
  16. A new hair clip or bobble

Rewards for older children

For older children you could buy something such as a new phone case or water bottle. You could also make the rewards more long-term and bigger.

For example, saving up small amounts of money each time a goal is done, until this amount adds up to a larger item. This could be 20p or 50p depending on the goal, and the reward a larger item such a a new T-shirt.

Remember, giving ongoing praise is just as important as rewards. Saying well done, giving a smile, a hug or a high five can really help your child stay motivated

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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Ideas to help motivate children with rewards that are not food.


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