Points and small bonuses should reward children when they clean their rooms, do their homework or brush teeth. When reward work, and when not!

Anticipation activates a happiness hormone

Reward systems Children

Photo: © Fotolia.com/ Monkey Business

The idea is simple: When a child for a certain behavior gets an asterisk, and for ten stars a small gift, it will make an effort, even to achieve this goal. Indeed, the prospect of reward in the brain the neurotransmitter dopamine already activated, "happiness hormone", It solves the nice feeling of anticipation of, scientists say, and this strength and motivation. But amplifier plans as reward systems are also called, can have unwanted side effects, which is why you should consider some things:

No reward for doing homework

If parents reward obvious activities like doing the homework, brushing the teeth, or the clearing of one's plate, the offspring quickly developed a "What do I get for this?"Farming: It hardly makes something of his own accord. Studies also showed: For children who are rewarded for anything and everything, lose the reward soon their appeal. Parents need to constantly come up with new things to get the motivation upright.

Asterisks for "freestyle"Not for the "mandatory"!

It should - to put it sporty - rather the free program will be rewarded, as the duty: if a child practices including during the holidays arithmetic or if it takes a more complex task like sweeping the garage or cleaning out the dishwasher. But things easy to forget the children can use "tokens" (= Points, stars, stamps, etc.) are recognized: "the child comes home to his shoes on the shelf and the jacket hanging, then you could accompany this with a reward system"Explains Katja Seide, special education teacher, blogger and mother of three from Berlin.

So parents need to weigh what a reward is actually worth and what is not. While tidying up the nursery may be theoretically a matter of course. In reality, it needs a lot of willpower to overcome a chaos of felt 1000 Lego bricks. This too can therefore "points worthy" be. In general, however: If you want to use a scoring system "you should use it very sparingly and keep the rewards small. If the behavior is ingrained, should be tapering off the rewards"Advises Katja Seide.

When reward systems do not work

Maybe you want to try an asterisk system so that your child is potty-trained, better behaved, at meals more eats or gets better grades in school. But here smileys and Co. can little help, experts say. When a child is reliably clean, depends as much on the maturity of certain brain areas. "If the child but learn to wash regularly after using the toilet and then to wash their hands, rewards may intervene"Says special education teacher silk.

In difficult eaters star are also unsuitable. Because they are specially rewarded for food, they lose even more the feeling that food is a matter of course and Enjoyable. In terms of school grades restraint is called for: bad grades are often based on understanding problems, and also the prospect of reward makes tricky tasks any easier. Here is concrete help important.

Helps asterisk system against bad behavior?

When a child misbehaves, parents need to weigh carefully whether a points system is suitable. "Skin, scratching or spits it, for example, it is useless to try to change this behavior through rewards. For it is only a symptom that it has a deeper problem"Emphasizes silk. "It may feel unloved, has too little attention of parents, or annoyed in kindergarten." you manipulate using round of rewards to the symptom could temporarily disappear while there. "The child is but start again in order to draw attention to his need."

Unlike the case may be, if a son or daughter, perhaps in the classroom into talk a lot or like to talk to their neighbors: When teachers and parents assume no deeper causes here asterisk can sometimes help: For every reasonably trouble-free morning there is the teacher a sticker and for ten of them a reward of their parents.

For sleep problems rewards are almost always inappropriate. "A child is crying at night when going to sleep for the parents, or comes in the night regularly to the parents' bed, it is because it is afraid or its binding behavior was activated"Says education expert silk. they wanted here with a reward system to control, come in the child's statement to: "If you do not verbalisierst your fear, you get a gift."

Token systems: which is suitable?

Try want parents and child a token system, it is not important whether they choose points, stamps or stickers. It is crucial that positive behavior rewarded negative but is not punished, for example by taking away points. For the frustrated destroys the motivation and damaged mainly the trusting relationship with parents or teachers.

The child must not also be too small. "At least once before have shown the desired behavior, so be physically and mentally able to carry it out"Emphasizes silk. It is also crucial that the child agree with the reward system, because "a child that something partout does not want, will not be tempted by sparkling stars."

The younger the child, with the fewer points the reward should be achievable. Because young children are short-distance runners in motivation. is popular with them especially tangible as a premium box from which they can choose something: a yo-yo, a shell, a small soda bottle, a wash mitt in animal form, a sand molds, a kaleidoscope, a cuckoo whistle, a Muh -Outlet, a bounceback. But the favorite ice in the ice cream shop or a time free choice at the bakery.

Experience rewards - in older children in high demand

Children of primary school age can already look further something in the future and save up more points. For them especially good experience rewards are: a half hour guided pony riding on the farm, a visit to the zoo, on the cart track, in the much-loved fast-food restaurant, the Experimental Museum, the amusement park, the Puppet theater or cinema. Or simply: to stay up to one may freely chosen day midweek really long.

Sometimes it is difficult for a younger sibling when the older child gets a reward. Perhaps it is even too small for a token system. Want it now also have smiley faces, parents can give him now and then stamp for small handouts passed and a reward that triggers the older child no envy (collective figure, animal stickers). As experience rewards for the older child, parents can turn to propose undertakings that anyway not eligible for the younger child in question (cinema, cart track) to prevent feelings of envy.