5 Unique Ways to Use Computer Games as a Reward
We get it—video games can definitely be a distraction for kids, but did you know they can also be a powerful motivating force? By employing a few simple techniques, you can use your child’s favorite computer games to help motivate him or her to do homework, complete chores, treat others with respect and avoid fighting with siblings. Here are five tricks to help you use computer games as healthy rewards.
1. General Incentives for General Responsibilities
Games can be a great way to motivate children to complete their daily responsibilities, such as homework or making beds. Apply a more modern take on the “no TV until homework is done” approach that your parents used with you, and require homework or other tasks to be completed before your child gets to play his or her favorite computer games.
2. Extra Duties for Extra Time
As a general rule, your child’s daily game time should be limited. One technique parents have been using for years to get their kids to pitch in a little extra around the house involves allowing longer game time for extra duties, like taking out the trash or not fighting with siblings. Come up with a list of chores that match your child’s abilities, and assign a time reward for each one. Fun ideas could be “vacuum the stairs for 30 minutes of game time” or “wash the car for an hour of time.”
3. The Token Method
If you have trouble keeping track of how much game time your kids have earned, try out the token method. Your kids can use tokens that correspond to time value to “pay” you for time, so everyone always knows where they stand. You can use anything you like as tokens, but some fun choices include toy coins (such as the type party stores sell for pirate-themed parties), poker chips, bottle caps or, for different “denominations,” you could even use Monopoly money.
4. Mods or Expansions as Cumulative Rewards
Many games come with optional “mods” (modifications, often made by members of an online gaming community) or “expansions” (additional content, usually produced by the game company). These games add features, change the play environment or otherwise alter an existing game, keeping the player interested in an old favorite. As such, mods and expansions are great ways to offer cumulative rewards.
Wizard101 and Pirate101 offer Crowns as a way to unlock extra play zones and get new and unique items. With these Crowns, players can purchase cool pets or expand their gear collection, as some unique game items are only accessible by way of Crowns. In fact, Crowns work great as a reward system—if your child does chores for a week or even a month, he or she could earn a desired Crown, mod or expansion pack.
5. Surprise Rewards
You can use gaming as a surprise reward for spontaneous good behavior. If, for example, you see your younger child sharing without being prompted or your older child going out of his or her way to help a classmate, you could reward this with extra time on the computer.
Of course, choosing which way you reward your children is different for every family. But whether it’s a way to incentive chores or simply a way to let your kid know they’re doing a great job, using computer games as a reward can reap great benefits, for both you and your child.