PBIS Reward & Incentive Ideas

Instructor: Glenna Billingsley

Glenna Billingsley has a doctorate in Education and teaches in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Texas State University

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is an evidence-based alternative to punitive, traditional disciplinary practices. One of the hallmarks of PBIS is acknowledging students for appropriate behavior. This lesson provides some ideas for rewards and incentives that encourage positive behavior in students.

Why Use PBIS Rewards?

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) replaces traditional school practices of negatively reacting to students with punishment with preventative strategies such as teaching students the expectations and reinforcing them when they behave appropriately. Positive reinforcement is a scientifically-proven technique of teaching, whereby someone is given something meaningful that increases the likelihood that a behavior will be repeated in the future.

Reward & Incentive Ideas

There are various ways positive reinforcement can be delivered to students from offering specific, contingent praise when positive behaviors are demonstrated to more formalized, school-wide systems. Two common, formal systems of acknowledging students for appropriate behavior are using a school or classroom 'store' and having raffle drawings for prizes. These are not mutually exclusive; some schools use both simultaneously.

School or Classroom Store

When using a school or classroom store, students are rewarded for appropriate behavior with tokens, fake money, certificates or points that can be used to buy things in the store. Handing out the currency is paired with praise. For example, 'Thanks for picking up that trash in the hall. Here is a Bobcat Buck for you.' There must be systems in place that provide logistics on how inventory will be obtained and paid for, who will run the store, when will the store be available, and how to keep currency from being counterfeited.

The items in the store must be desired by the students in order for the reinforcing effect to be present. Items that appeal to kindergartners will be different from those that are of interest to 5th graders. Inventory must be free or inexpensive and include instructional and social incentives in addition to tangible items. Of course, for class-related items, all teachers need to agree to honor these incentives in their classrooms. The following is a list of possible items for a school or classroom store in order from those of interest to younger children to those in middle or high school.

Examples of Rewards

  • Stickers
  • Novelty erasers
  • Special pencils
  • Smelly markers
  • Juice boxes
  • Animal crackers or other individually wrapped, small, healthy snacks
  • Stuffed animals
  • Small toys or trinkets (inexpensively available from vendors like Oriental Trading Company)
  • Lunch with a favorite adult
  • Story books
  • Required school supplies
  • Homework coupons
  • Gift certificates from area restaurants and attractions
  • Free items from the cafeteria
  • Not having to wear a uniform (if your school has one)
  • Headphones or earbuds
  • Phone charging time
  • Hand lotion
  • Personal hygiene items like nail polish or aftershave
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Special privileges, such as being the teacher's helper

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