Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Parenting Files: The Reward Dilemma

We're working on Mr Busy's attitude towards homework and getting his grades up to where he is capable of achieving.  If you have boys you know most of them would rather be 'doing' something rather than sitting in front of books, but this is our education system and the books are here to stay for a while.  So Dh has been working on spelling with Mr Busy.  A few weeks back when we were helping him practise for his weekly spelling test he wanted to know what he would get if he got 100% (15 words on the list).  I flippantly said "you'll get dinner that night" and he got 100% along with a delicious meal and lots of praise.

Tonight, after working hard and practising every day he came home with 14 out of 15 correct.  Did you know "annually" has two n's?  Mr Busy forgot that.  When I jokingly told him I wouldn't be able to give him dinner - roast chicken - he laughed, hugged me and said "let's not tell Dad".  Well of course we'll tell Dad and he'll get fed and all will be well.  Don't worry - my children remind me often it is illegal not to feed them, and it hasn't happened by my hand even one time in all their lives.  Occasionally they have tried the "Yuck, I'm not eating that" and decided that particular choice was....unwise.  But it begs the question: how do you encourage your children to do their best when they would rather just not do the work?

I know some people pay their kids.  I feel really uncomfortable about that.  There are lots of situations in life where you will be required to do stuff without any apparent tangible reward.  Sometimes you just have to do stuff because it's the right thing to do not because you'll get something out of it.  It's a lesson easier that I think is easier to learn in your youth than as an adult.  The girls have always been brilliant about trying hard and getting their homework done and handing things in on time.  What can I say, they are quite stereotypical in this regard - they will sit in front of their homework and keep going even when they feel cranky about it.  Mr Busy informed me he has decided he wants to do a degree in IT when he finishes school.  And for now that is my leverage.  In order to get into Uni, in Australia, you are awarded an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank) score based on your Yr12 results and declares your worthiness of University entrance.  Uni's set the scores for entrance and it varies depending on course, university and campus within a university.  Complex stuff.  For now I am encouraging Mr Busy to aim for the goal = getting into Uni to study computers.

If you can't run around then you may as well play with computers.  Cantankerous things!

1 comment:

Left-Handed Housewife said...

I too have mixed feelings about rewarding kids to do what they should be doing anyway. Having said that, when Will or Jack bring home good report cards we often take them to the bookstore and let them pick out whatever they like, which maybe gives them the sense that good things happen when you do try hard and succeed (that's just a theory, though).

And, I must admit, I have paid Will to try a bite of a new food. Yes, I admit it. I am that desperate.