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I know that this post may be a bit controversial but I'll go for it anyway... 

Over the past few years as a result of my experience and copious amounts of reading, I have moved away from using rewards and use praise carefully and genuinely e.g not using it to get other children to follow suit but to say 'thank you' for following rules or show delight in their efforts etc. We try to use positive comments and show interest through conversations instead of just saying 'well done.' There is an awful lot of research out there that highlights how rewards (and punishments) can be detrimental in the long run - it's basically all bribes, manipulating behaviour and it just doesn't sit well with me as the years go on! That doesn't mean to say that I never give out a consequence or a little bribe as a means to an end, however, I do not use rewards as a way of getting children to follow rules. Our focus is always on intrinsic motivation. 

However, the main issue I have with this way of working is that for SEND children the advice is always the same - use bribes in the form of 'working towards' boards, over the top praise etc etc and who-ever you speak to (outside agencies, special schools etc) the advice remains the same - motivate them to do something by giving them an external motivator e.g time on the tablet, time to play with xxx. Is this really the only answer to encouraging SEND to change their behaviours? I read an article recently about an SEND school who had got rid of any form of reward or public praise and the children responded much better than with the external motivators but it didn't give any pointers as to what to do instead apart from taking a genuine interest in the children and building better relationships. 

So I have a boy who hits out all the time...is the only way forward to say... if you get 4 smiley faces you can do... or is there another way? Of course, as well as these 'working towards' ideas, it is advised (and we do) nurture/emotional literacy groups etc.

What do other's think? Please be honest!

Green Hippo x 


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Hi Green Hippo

Your post reflects pretty much how I feel about giving praise/rewards for behaviour. At the beginning it took a real effort not to hand out an empty well done. I have recently done the Signs for Feelings training and at our setting it certainly has focused us all on responding consistently and with more meaning. If it's not something you've looked into it might be worth investigating. It has helped with all children, including SEND.

Look forward to following post for more ideas.





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