How to Reward Your Teen for Good Behavior

Family walking together through field
Hero Images/Getty Images

Teenagers are young adults who are trying to learn the ways of the world. When they do something great at school or at home or simply make a healthy decision, parents can give them a reward.

The reward does not have to be money, but it is a nice way to say "thank you" or "I'm proud of you." Teens need this positive reinforcement because it shows them that they are on the right track. It is also a good life lesson that you can pass on: good things happen to good people.

When Do Teenagers Deserve a Reward?

A teen can earn a reward for positive behavior or by changing negative behavior. While you should not feel that you have to "pay" for everything your teen does, reinforcement of good behavior will help ensure it continues.

Plus, it feels good to give your teen a reward. It shows that you are paying attention when your teen is being good and not just when they do something wrong.

Teen-Approved Rewards for Good Behavior

The following list includes a number of rewards you might want to consider. They are all things that teenagers want and are pretty universal.

Of course, if your teen is into a special hobby or has a unique interest, cater the reward to that from time to time.

  • A Hug. You would be surprised how much this simple gesture means.
  • A Subscription. Maybe they have a favorite magazine that will reduce their "screen time" or there is a streaming music service they have wanted to start using.
  • Extended Curfew. Give them an extra hour on their weekend curfew so they can hang out with friends just a little bit longer. This can help establish trust.
  • Sleeping In. Allow your teen to take a morning off and sleep in a little later than normal. Of course, this shouldn't be on a school day.
  • Car Privileges. Extend your driving teen's car privileges for an extra hour or two so they can stay at the mall or coffee shop a little longer.
  • Computer Time. Limiting the teenager's screen time is not a bad thing. When they do good things, give them a few extra hours to play on the computer without doing homework.
  • Favorite Meal. Give your teen the opportunity to plan one of the family's dinners and let them choose their favorite dish and dessert.
  • Pizza Night. Almost every teen loves pizza and you can treat them to a dinner at their favorite pizza joint or make a pie at home. Invite the teen's best friend and let them choose their favorite toppings!
  • Movie Night. Either get the family together or let the teen invite a few friends to a movie night. Give them tickets to the theater or have their friends over to stream that new blockbuster at your house. If it's a family movie night, reward your teen with the flick of their choice.
  • Concert Tickets. Is your teen dying to attend the hottest new pop band that is coming to town? Reward them with a pair of tickets and let them invite a friend to attend the show with them.
  • Redesigned Bedroom. A teenager's bedroom is their place in the house and it is nice to move furniture around or add a fresh feel to the decor as they grow up. If they have been begging you for a new look, this is a great reward.
  • Friend Time. Give your teen permission to invite a few friends over for a sleepover or just a few extra hours to watch movies, play games and hang out.
  • Cell Phone. If your teen does not have their own phone yet, this may be a nice reward for doing something special. Remind them that with a phone comes responsibility and you expect them to keep up the good work or the phone may have to go away.
  • Hobby Tools. For teens who are interested in a particular hobby, a new tool related to it is a great reward.
  • New Book. Encourage reading and reward your teen at the same time by giving them a new book or a gift certificate so they can choose their own.
  • New Clothes. Every teen wants the latest fashions and a gift card to the mall is a fantastic idea. Give them a ride and let them spend the afternoon with friends spending their well-earned reward.
Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

  1. Law BM, Siu AM, Shek DT. Recognition for positive behavior as a critical youth development construct: conceptual bases and implications on youth service developmentScientificWorldJournal. 2012;2012:809578. doi:10.1100/2012/809578