Thursday, February 17, 2011

Motivational Methods

   Okay, let's face it.  You are not going to find a job that calls for more diverse job skills than being a wife and/or a mother.  I don't think any university anywhere could offer a four year degree that could prepare you for this!  And forget about getting your Master's degree!  God gave us our special talents and abilities, and He wants us to put them to the best use.  I think this is why most women don't have very much difficulty in doing more than one thing at a time; God has hardwired us to be able to cook supper, watch kids, talk on the phone, and fold laundry all at the same time! 

   One job skill that I have been having put to the test lately is the role of "motivational speaker."  Our first-born (aka the Lawyer) is in the first grade.  We have the privilege of being able to send him to our church-school.  So, out the door he goes every morning, to face the hallowed halls of knowledge.

    Unfortunately, he thinks that, for the most part, he is not in need of this knowledge, and so he proceeds to slack.  Now, he is not by any means unable to do the work.  On the contrary, I think the actual problem is the opposite.  He is tired of learning to write the letter 'M', so he goes to school with the mindset that what he is learning is not important.  Here's where the "motivational" part comes in! 

   My first idea was to move him up a grade.  However, I wasn't completely convinced that this was the way to go, since it would teach him that the 'boring' stuff in life could be skipped over when you want to.  Not a great lesson to instill early on in his school career!  Our Fearless Leader was also not sold on this idea, and he recommended increasing the volume of work accomplished in a day.  It would then stand to reason that he would be busier with getting his work completed, and then have less time to waste.  We also gave him a second grade elective course that could be worked on when his first-grade goals were completed.  Well, this worked great...for about a week!  Then he began to get his increased work done, and still have time to waste.  This meant that he would sit idly in his desk, and get lost in 'day-dream' land.  Not the desired effect...

   So, we took some time to re-visit what had worked for motivation in his past.  We remembered that when he was potty-training, we had a sticker chart.  Every time he went on the potty successfully, he got a sticker on his chart.  When he filled the chart (I think it was 9 squares altogether), we went to the park.  (This had one quirky side effect though, because now all my children refer to the local park as the 'sticker park'!)  So, now he has a new chart.  If he gets through a day of school with no demerits, he receives a sticker on his chart.  If he does this Monday through Thursday, then he get Friday out of school to have a fun day with mommy and the little boys.  Since we implemented this new system about four weeks ago, he has earned two Fridays out of school.  (One week he had an extra day out of school because of snow.)  This week has been a good one, so tomorrow we are heading to the park by daddy's office, and then going to eat lunch with daddy! 

   It is our hope to instill good work habits, and to teach the principle of doing your best no matter what.  You don't really think about the fact that someone taught you this until you are faced with teaching it to someone else!  Lots of patience and prayer is required in this crazy thing called parenting!  If any of you have "motivational" techniques that are a success for you, leave a note in the comments section.  After all, I have two more boys that aren't in school yet!  Not to mention a big guy that still hasn't mastered the definition of the words "laundry hamper"!  :) 

                                        Our active first-born!  :)

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