Have you ever had a child who won't stay on task unless you are there to make sure he does? Are you ever tempted to threaten negative consequences to try to motivate them to stay focused on their school work or chores?
Positive consequences for good choices and self-government motivate children way more than the prospect of negative consequences. Negative consequences have their place. But, positive consequences, if used effectively, can make their own negative consequence as well.
For instance, if the family has decided ahead of time that the positive consequence for keeping a room clean for that week is an ice cream sundae on Saturday night. Then, if the child doesn't keep her room clean all week, the negative consequence is that she would not have earned an ice cream sundae.
Self Motivation Tips
Every so often another family will invite me to come teach the family self-government. When I am there the family learns lots of skills knowing that a family treat is going to follow the skills practice. This positive consequence is great motivation for participation. Make sure all positive consequences are determined ahead of time so that they don't become bribes. Bribes enforce bad behaviors and are not healthy.
While I am way from my family, helping teach another family self-government skills, my children are at home practicing self-government. How did I teach them have self-government when I am not there to check up on them?
Self Improvement Ideas
Some times when I leave home for a day or two and can't take the children I leave the children grab bags. The grab bags are filled with small objects or treats from the dollar store or similar. Each brown lunch bag is folded over, stapled and labeled for which day it is to be opened and for who the grab bag is for. So, a grab bag might be labeled “Londyn Thursday.”
Before the child can open the grab bag labeled for that day she needs to do her list of chores and school responsibilities. Having such an enticing motivation gets my children really excited. They stay focused on their tasks so that they can earn their grab bag surprise.
This is a typical list of things my child would do in a day to earn his grab bag.
- Make Bed
- Clean Room
- Do Stewardship (this is the area of the house they must keep clean each day like kitchen or basement)
- Read Scriptures
- Say Prayers
- Practice Violin (20 min.)
- Practice Piano (20 min.)
- Vocal Practice (15 min.)
- Math Lesson
- Reading Time
- (And any other project, like write a paper, or other school projects.)
This is a big list of things to do for one little dollar store surprise out of a grab bag, but they feel it is worth it. I try to get them cool things like real calculators and colored pencil kits etc. But, even if it is a sucker they still love it because it's a surprise. This is why it is essential to use brown paper bags. The best part of the whole motivation system is the surprise factor.
Once a child knows how to follow instructions, the sky is the limit. The child soon becomes capable of even taking care of his own school assignments and chores without an adult there to make sure it happens. And, the best part of all is that the child is happy. He feels like he is grown up, in charge of his own success, trusted by his parents, and able to do hard things.
Self-government opens the door of possibility for children. Soon, they see themselves as more capable and grown up than they ever did before. Self-government skills increase confidence and lead to welcoming greater responsibility.