Rewarding Children: Parenting Response on Ask the Rabbi
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Rewarding Children

We have two boys, ages 4 and 5. They don't like to be treated differently, yet sometimes it is necessary. For example, rewarding one for using the bathroom properly would be a joke for the other. But then they feel it is unfair when they are rewarded differently. How should we deal with this?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

You should persist in rewarding them differently for different things. Why? Because proper education must reflect the reality of life. We each have different challenges, and are rewarded based on our own level.

How do you get the children to accept this? The key is to remind them of the "inequity" – not when the other sibling is getting rewarded – rather when they are the one getting rewarded! In other words, as you hand the boy his prize, tell him, "Notice how only you are getting rewarded for this. See, it's not always equal. But this is something you're working hard at. Maybe next time your brother will get a reward for something he's working hard at."

Here’s another useful suggestion. If the reward is a cookie, for example, you could give the child two cookies and say, "One is for you, and the other is for you to give your brother." That way, the one who gets rewarded learns the value of sharing. And the one who didn't get rewarded learns to take pleasure in the success of others.

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