Rewarding &





Rewarding and Encouraging Behaviours

When looking to improve behaviour outcomes in schools there are a few common misconceptions that arise for discussion.

These include:

# If implementing a Positive Approach to Behaviour you never have any consequences for undesirable behaviour (definitely not the case!)

# When encouraging behaviours with rewards you are stopping the students from developing intrinsic motivation.

I am going to discuss the latter of these two in today’s blog post.

It is important to first consider why we reward behaviour.  Just as we would reward and praise a student when they are learning to read, we need to reward and praise a student when they are learning new behavioural skills.

Psychologists agree it can take 28 days or 28 positive interactions to change a habit or learned behaviour.  If we want to move away from watching our students make the same behavioural mistakes over and over we can, but if we want to help them change their pattern of behaviour and teach them the skills needed to make better behavioural choices it is important that we consider how to reward and encourage the behaviours we are expecting.

Rewarding and encouraging behaviours not only assists the student in making better choices, it also encourages teachers to use the language of behaviour we are encouraging and helps to develop consistency and a presence of behavioural improvement across the school.

I will discuss in more detail in my next Blog Post a variety of ways to encourage and reward behaviours in creative ways that I have found to be effective and that help develop a sense of pride and ownership in the students.

For now I want to discuss the age-old debate about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

First and foremost I believe professional debate is a good thing – we can respectfully challenge ideas in order to understand things on a deeper level and in order to always strive for improvement.

Intrinsic motivation is when we are motivated to do certain things because they are enjoyable to do. Their reward is inherent to the activity itself and not due to some external factors, i.e. money, perks, or recognition.

Eg. a child swinging just for fun

However when we think of ourselves in a workplace or when we think of a student having to complete an English task or follow school rules, we understand that it is not always done or going to be done out of enjoyment.  Rather it may be done out of a need to please, or to meet a goal or ideally because it is the right thing to do.

If we want our students to learn behavioural skills that they currently may not have or don’t use readily we often have to think of it as a continuum of improvement starting with a need for an external reward but leading to a place of internal regulation or drive to do the expected behaviour naturally.

Having said this, it is important to consider rewards that can encourage a sense of pride and belonging amongst the students and across the school community.  This is a great opportunity to begin working towards a cultural shift across the school around the expected behaviours and what they mean across the school.

A particularly informative presentation about this understanding of intrinsic & extrinsic motivation can be found at the following link.

5b Motivation Rewards PDF

Over the next few months, I will be writing an individual blog on each of the above areas in a step-by-step approach so that you can make this change happen effectively in your own local school or setting.

If you would like to keep up to date with blog posts as they are released, please subscrive to my FREE newsletter and you will receive your choice of FREEBIE to support your iniative plus regular information to help you improve behaviour in your school.


If you would prefer to chat to me in person, I am available via email, zoom or phone to chat and identify how to begin to set up improvements to mental health and wellbeing in your school or setting.  I can also help you problem solve any issues you are having or help you implement any initiatives you have planned.  You can also simply email me to vent about any issues you are currently facing or successes you have achieved.

I also have resources available to support you or if you wish to guide yourself through the process by following this link below.

If you would like to schedule a Zoom chat with me to see if we are a good fit or ask any questions, click on the link below.


In my next blog post I will explore how to approach discussions around rewarding expected behaviour and provide some examples of rewards that encourage a sense of belonging and help to develop a positive school culture.

If you have any questions about improving behaviour in schools, student mental health & wellbeing or community approaches to mental health , or any other areas of interest, please send me an email @ 

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As always, please feel free to share my blog post with friends and colleagues and contact me with any questions.

Have a great day! 🙂

Renee Knapp

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