Rewarding Discipline (Achieving goals, Self-discipline, Rewards)

Instead of the school assigned computer homework, I have her work through ‘Explode the Code’ reading and writing books. I like that it’s not on a computer, involves physically writing and gives us a tangible sense of accomplishment.

When she finished the last one, I gave her a reward. This was her beloved stuffed animal shark. On this new level workbook I mentioned a potential reward but did not make a big deal of it. She has come to understand that we do these workbooks.

Well, tonight, while I prepared dinner, I interrupted her playing in some boxes to prompt her to begin. She balked. “I don’t want to. I want to do it tomorrow.” The resistance was that she was engaged in creative play, something I hold sacred. Nevertheless, I told her we need to do a bit and that she skipped several days last week. Whining and refusal. What to do? Insist? Order her? I don’t like to go there, especially with learning.

So I agreed with her. “Okay, don’t do it. No problem. Just I won’t be able to give you a prize at the end.” She said she would start back tomorrow and do double. This gave me an idea on how to sharpen the reward. “No, I’m sorry, the prize is for completing it from consistent effort. A little each day.” I decided in the quiet of my mind that four days a week would be my prize criteria. Without a word, she ran off to get her workbook.

With her resistance gone, she slipped contently into the exercises. I thought again about having interrupted her when she was off in her imagination. I concluded that whatever she attempts in life, she’ll have to have the internal muscle to bring consistent effort to it. I intend for her to be much better at it through her younger years than I have been up to even now. If it takes a little persuasion and a prize, so be it. The real prize is being a person whose desires and self-discipline are a match.

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