Thursday, May 19, 2011

Points, Redemption and the Art of maintaining kids

Its a straight lift from the best selling novel title..but yet when I told this after it worked with my son, Amitha (for those who don't know, my lovely wife) told me that it suits well for what I am doing with my son.

Well the story begins this way, Pradhyumna (my son) is slightly asthamtic and we wanted him to start learing swimming, so once we moved to Bengaluru and settled at L&T SouthCity, we put him in the swimming camp that was starting.

Everyday he gets up early and gets ready without being egged on much and is all ready to leave home for his class by 8:15 am, Amitha took him for the first 2 days and on a saturday and since had nothing much to do at home, she asked me to take him...all I wanted to watch was how does he react to the coach instructions, does he talk back, ask questions etc... I was happy that out of the 8 kids he was the only one checking with the coach and ask him if he was doing it correct, I wondered how come he is doing this, he never talks to anyone when we go out or someone visits home. Then..came the best part, the coach after going around the pool, picked those kids doing the things that was taught, in the right way and saying to them "bravo, you are doing it get 10 points" that made my son happy and I realized that rewards/appreciation works across all ages and for all occasion.

Fast forward couple of hours later...son was troubling his sister to the core and she was screaming at the top of her voice and literally brining down the house.. I was trying to concentrate on reading a book and got literally wild and gave him one slap on his back...he went to his room and didnt come back for nearly half an hour...I really got pissed with myself for having lifted my hand and realized that if some stranger can give me points (which has no value) and my son feels happy... why not me?

So I started this...(lets fast forward again to dinner time), while having dinner again he was pulling his sisters hair, I told him if he doesnt trouble bebo (daughters nick name) for the next 30 mins he will get 50 points, it didnt seem to make any difference to his behaviour...he continued troubling bebo, I was totally taken aback and felt bad that my points arent worth than the coach even though I was liberal enough to give him 40 points made me think hard and then I told him for every good thing he does, he gets points and once it reaches 1000 points he gets a McDonalds toy (before all those people reading this start hammering me that I am encouraging junk foods, he doesnt like the burger but only the toy, so the junk part is for me/wife) and bingo, the entire night went of peacefully and actually he instead started playing with his sister and make her laugh..

Next day I introduced one more condition, everytime we find him bad things (troubling his sister, not listening to his mom etc) will make him loose points.. well it didnt go well with him...he started cribbing saying I give few points and now I am taking away..I realized this is no different from the performance appraisals that happen to us and we exactly behave how my son is doing... good happens we are happy, bad happens we crib.

This excercise of giving points, redemption for toys has worked but not fully...maybe once he sees his first toy from the earned points he will start throwing less and less tantrums

By the time he grows up, I wish he becomes immune to the peformance evaluation and does what is right...well that was not my intention when I started this whole excercise with him...but what the heck if it serves this purpose also I am happy.

He has collected 950 points till now (in last 5 days, he got a bonus of 500 points when he helped his sister to put on her shoes and also remove it)....the last 50 points wil be his best 50 points he will ever earn, I am sure of that.

Finally before I forget, Amitha is his book keeper, I mean maintains his points