Incentives are rewards or prizes for good behaviors. Incentives are especially helpful for overcoming resistance when children are locked in a power struggle or control battle with their parents. Incentives replace words. They give a child a reason to end the power struggle.
There are four rules that make incentives powerful:
The fourth rule is essential. The child's access to the toy, costume, or other incentive needs to be time-limited. That way your child is really earning a privilege and not another possession. That's the only way to maintain the incentive's value.
You can add some surprise to the incentives by creating a treasure chest of wrapped prizes or slips of paper with different incentives written on them.
You can also reward breakthroughs or reaching big goals with a triple reward (such as going to a fast food place, picking out a video, and staying up late to watch it).
Your child has to feel loved. Lots of physical affection (hugs and kisses) is more powerful than words or praise to let your child know he is loved. Activities with you (playing board games, playing catch, reading, going to the park or on walks) are also important. Not only are they essential for your child's emotional growth and mental health, they also make your child more receptive to following your rules and requests. Children will not give up their tug-of-war if you show your anger or try to control them.