The Reward System: The Power Of The Reward For Parents Caring For Autistic Children

by | Oct 26, 2023

Who doesn’t love a reward?  A treat?  Something that you or someone else awarded you because you did something well.  Most parents generally use a rewards system at home with their kids, a sign of good behaviour, or sleeping through the night, doing their chores, following instructions, and the list goes on.  The beauty about the reward is that it sets off the serotonin in the brain.  Serotonin also known as the happy hormone helps us to create feelings of happiness and long-lasting wellbeing:  Who doesn’t want that!

We, as parents, generally use this reward system for our children, but I want to ask you do you use it for yourself?

A reward system designed for a parent seems so insignificant when you are the carer of a child with special needs, yet it could be the one thing that keeps you going.

Do you reward yourself?

In a society where the goal posts continually move or we don’t feel entitled to the award, we never get the chance to actually pause, take a moment and enjoy what you’ve accomplished.

So, I ask you – what kind of reward would you want to receive the next time you achieved something really big?  What does the reward mean to you?

Rewards don’t have to be food.  I think most people think that a reward is instantly linked to food, but that simply isn’t the case.  Rewards could be an experience, praise, reading a good book, getting more sleep, or buying yourself something special, heck it could be buying yourself that coffee from the coffee shop.

Rewards have a powerful effect on the brain.  It can act as the kick in the pants to get something done, which means less procrastination.  It helps you stay focussed on the task at hand, you can eliminate distractions more easily as you have the end goal in mind.  By getting into the habit of doing the hard thing and then receiving the reward, we are training our brains to learn what to expect when we start a new task.

Do you think a reward system could work for you?

As I’ve mentioned 100 times over, this journey is a marathon not a sprint.  Just as we change and tweak processes for our children, so we must change and tweak strategies that do and don’t work for us.  As Einstein said, “hitting your head over and over again is the definition of insanity.”

The other part of the reward is that sometimes, as parents, we don’t worthy of receiving it.  Worthy of accepting the reward in its fullness, because somehow, we don’t deserve it.

I encourage you to set yourself one task this week and allocate one reward that you can give yourself as a job well done.  What will be your reward?

I hope you have found this to be helpful.  If you’ve got any questions, please reach out or send me a DM.

If you’ve got any questions, please send me a DM or email.

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