I find that during the summer, it can be especially difficult to get my kids to get chores done, do their reading, and practice their instruments. No, I do not have chore loving, musical bookworms! With one of my sons managing ADHD as well, I have found that incentives, or “things to work towards”, are a necessary part of our lives. Now I can hear some of you saying, “I’m not bribing my child to do things!” That is not what I am suggesting at all. The idea of bribing your child leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The concept makes me uncomfortable. Why? Bribing means you have lost your power as a parent. You are desperate and will do anything to stop a certain behavior from happening. Again, I am not going to pretend I’ve never done it. It happens, but it doesn’t have to be the norm. Using incentives, however, means that you have the power. Implementing incentives is also empowering to children. The dynamic sets them up to make their own choices and decisions regarding their behavior. When children earn something for their hard work, the reward is that much sweeter. The lesson of working hard for things begins to take shape, rather than the experience and rush of immediate gratification. As the parent, you are encouraging and focusing on the positive behavior you’d like to see, rather than trying to alter the negative behavior you don’t.
You can use incentives in so many creative ways. In our house (most of the time – I’m not perfect) my boys have a list of chores, reading and responsibilities they must complete in order to earn television or electronic time. I recently wrote about my son earning Instagram for a sports victory he’d been working towards. During the school year, my son has a list of things he must accomplish daily to earn his phone privileges for the next day. Some of my neighbors have implemented incentives for reading a certain amount of books this summer. As they get older, their tastes in clothing and gear has become more expensive. Rather than automatically buying that shiny new backpack each year, use it as an incentive for completing extra chores over the course of a few weeks. With younger children, I’d recommend breaking down the incentives into smaller, more tangible successes – maybe using Bingo chips and/or a chart. Knowing your child and what can motivate him or her is key. Enjoy!