"I don't think there is a problem with a small reward as positive reinforcement," says Dr. Herschel Lessin, medical director of the Children's Medical Group and a pediatrician at Vassar Brothers Hospital in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. The key is to make sure you use rewards wisely.
Rewarding Rule #1:
Reward. Don't bribe.There's a difference between bribery (manipulating kids to get them to cooperate) and reward (payoff earned for the right behavior). Bribery teaches children look for "what's in it for me?" instead of helping them become self-motivated.
So when does a reward become a bribe? One question you can ask yourself is: Has my child demonstrated extraordinary cooperation or completed an unpleasant task without complaints? If you answer yes, a reward might be appropriate. The idea is not to "reward" a child for not misbehaving, but rather use reward to reinforce her good behavior. For instance, buying a screaming child a new toy to quiet her is bribery. However, if your child has a lot of difficulty reading but struggles through it, giving her the toy will help motivate her.