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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Simple Rewards


I’ve never been a big fan of motivational charts and rewards for two reasons. First, I’m too lazy and scatterbrained to keep up with them. After a day or two, I forget to put the stickers on the chart. Secondly, I’ve never liked the idea of rewarding kids for things that they’ll eventually decide to do on their own, like...
...potty-train or sleep in their own beds through the night. As much as I’ve disliked spending a zillion dollars on diapers, I knew that my children would (and still will) decide they don’t like sitting in their own you know what.

Earlier this year, though, I decided to try a motivational reward chart with my 8-year-old daughter in order to make her piano practices less frustrating. We keep a six-week chart, logging between 4-5 practices a week. As long as Norah counts loudly as she plays, plays slowly and has a good attitude (no eye-rolling, yelling at mama or throwing a temper-tantrum due to frustration), she earns a star. She gets a reward if she has 27-30 stars after a six-week period. I try to make the reward a special activity, such as taking her to see a movie or out to eat with a friend, rather than just buying her something.

Surprisingly, I’ve been able to stay on top of this system. It helps that the chart is in Norah’s lesson book where her piano teacher jots notes of what she wants Norah to practice each week. Since I’m taking piano lessons, too, I find that I’m staying on top of her practices and chart-keeping because I’m doing my own drills.

I’ll be interested to see whether such systems will work for my sons when they’re a bit older (and completely potty-trained).

Contributed by Carrie Vittitoe, parent-writer for Today’s Family magazine.




2 comments:

  1. Not sure what you mean by "counts loudly as she plays," can you elaborate on this? I would love to find something to eliminiate the struggle over piano practice!!

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    1. Hi Julie! This is Carrie. My daughter's piano teacher wants her to count the beats as she plays. So if she is playing a waltz in 3/4 time signature, she wants her to count "1, 2, 3," "1,2,3" for every measure of the song. So the counting, as means of keeping her on the right beat and helping me know where she is in the song as I watch her play, is part of her chart.

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