Magic key


March 25th, 2014

Encouragers, or rewards or bribes as some people may call them, can be helpful when used in moderation. Encouragers are especially effective when they are used in conjunction with promoting imaginative interactions with your child.

Stickers, Hand Stamps, Keys, Tickets: Some of the simplest objects can be rewards or encouragers for your young child. Stickers and hand stamps are common encouragers. Two additional encouragers that your child will enjoy are old keys and tickets (carnival-type tickets that can be purchased in inexpensive rolls). These can lead to some interesting interactions between you and your child, so that the encourager/reward for a particular behavior doesn’t become the be-all and end-all, but a starting place to share an imaginative experience with your child.

When I’ve used keys as encouragers with a young child, these are some of the exchanges that we’ve shared.

Me: “You were so helpful in putting your blocks away. As we agreed, here is your key (ticket). I am wondering how you can use this key (ticket).”

Various Children’s Responses: This is a key to: a space ship, a treasure chest, a race car, a castle, a jail, my grandma’s house, my sister’s room when she locks me out, a toy store full of toys, a fairy princess’s house, a candy store. This is a ticket for: a ride on a submarine, a carnival, the movies, a ride to outer space, Disneyland, a pizza place.

Follow-up Questions: “I am wondering who you will take with you when you use your key (ticket). What will you do when you get there?”

Imaginative exchanges around encouragers enrich and broaden the experience beyond the reward itself.

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