Rewarding Good Behavior

Rewarding good behavior is really hard! Hard, but worthwhile.

Before I volunteered at an elementary school I had a vague idea about not rewarding troublemakers. Unfortunately, when I was in front of four classes of eager students, my ideas were tested. I called on the troublemakers, a lot.

This got me thinking about rewarding good behavior. If you have an unpleasant experience at a restaurant, you’ll likely pay, leave, and never return. However, if you make a fuss, you can have your meal paid for by an apologetic manager. Almost universally it seems that a hissy-fit will get you everywhere. A friend of mine who worked in retail quipped that employees were instructed to accept any return for a full refund after the customer raised his voice. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

As a reaction to my experience, I am trying to give credit when credit is due and to reward good behavior that I see around me. It feels strange to positively enforce a pleasant experience—it is much easier for me to complain about an unpleasant experience. Nothing good comes easy, eh?

How do you reward good behavior?