Thursday, November 3, 2011

Incentives

It seemed like a really, really good idea.  We were at basketball practice and Chris was struggling on his word search.  I know that he can do it, he just doesn’t want to.  He claims that it’s hard, so I pulled out the bribe.  “I will give you a piece of candy for every word that you are able to find.  Try your hardest, okay?”  His eyes went wide.  CANDY! They screamed.  Now, let me just take a moment here to let you know that candy in our house is a special treat and they can only have one piece.  They don’t ask for it every day, which as someone who lived on candy just confuses me.  When I offered him this proposition I wasn’t sure about what candy we even had in the house.  So, Chris worked on his word search and was able to find eight out of the ten words and received eight conversation hearts (it’s October, by the way, and those are Valentine’s candies).  It worked.  I KNEW he could do it; I just had to sweeten it a bit.
Fast forward one week.  It’s Halloween night and the boys have just dumped all their candy and are picking their thirty pieces each.  I’m eyeing the fun size M-n-M’s and Skittles thinking that these would be the perfect addition to the word search incentive pile.   After the boys are done I start pulling out the packets of candy and my husband walks in.  “What are you doing?”  he asks shocked.  “I’m pulling treats for Chris to do his word searches.” (DUH!)  Now, you would have thought that I just told him that I was going to burn all that left over candy by the look on his face.  This starts a long conversation on incentives and why I can’t use candy as one.  One that has me in near tears because I found something that worked and it’s now being challenged.  What I’m thinking is a jumble of feelings of failure and inadequacy and a lot of how dare he, he’s not the one here every day doing this, why can’t he just leave it alone.  Then the bomb, “You know, maybe your curriculum isn’t good enough if he isn’t doing the work.”  BOOM!  Low blow dude.  Truth is in that statement though, but I really didn’t want to hear it then.  I wanted to gather my word search finding gold and be on my merry way.  There are advantages and disadvantages to having a husband who is an educator.  
So, here I am reevaluating, yet again, our states unit study.  Fricking fifty states!  It was such a pretty idea, they would do work sheets, including word searches, and we would assemble books every week on a different state.  Grr!    
*The rest of the candy from the Halloween haul goes to a local non-profit, My Joyful Heart 
**We did agree on a different incentive program for Chris though.  He is going to get bingo chips that count for 1 minute of video game time.  He banks them up and then he can cash them in outside of our relegated video game/TV time.   The video game time was my husband’s idea; the bingo chips were mine (there needs to be something tangible!).  
***I could not find bingo chips, we are using raffle tickets.

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