Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Points for Pokemon

In an effort to get my reluctant musician to practice the piano, I instituted "Points for Pokemon" this week. My biggest battle with Ridge of late has been about piano. He just doesn't want to practice, doesn't like his lessons and is trying his hardest to get out of it. I am trying my hardest to get him to keep playing though we both are in tears sometimes by the end of his practice sessions, particularly those ones right after his lessons when he has new material.

So I had this grand idea: use Pokemon cards, his current obsession, as a practice incentive for him. And rather than say, we'll get your Pokemon cards after you've practiced this many times, I went out and bought a $10 pack of cards and had it sitting on the piano with the "Points for Pokemon" sign. Cannon also has his own pack to earn but his is related to behavior (trying to curb the scream crying and belligerence and encourage talking and obeying). I'm sure that the child experts would not endorse this bribery but I had to do something different.

When I explained to Ridge how he could earn the cards he started crying and whining saying that it wasn't fair that Cannon got to earn his points through chores and being good while he had to practice the piano. It wasn't that I set an absurd amount of points either, just 10, one for every dollar the pack cost. I thought it was too generous but decided that it had to be attainable for him to make it work. For the first few days I thought this plan was also going to fail but he came around. He gained a point for practicing and lost points by not practicing and through disobedience. Two days ago he practiced double so he could earn the pack faster and then yesterday, after his snack and after school shows, he sat down at the piano to practice out the rest of his points. In order to do that he had to play each song 27 times (he is supposed to play each song 3x per practice session). And he did. I admit that I kind of tried to talk him out of all that practicing because I wanted him to earn the cards after a good lesson, but then he said,

"mom, I thought you'd be happy that I'm practicing so much." Good point. I was happy that he had decided to practice.

I think by the time he was done he was having fun with it. But I also think my plan backfired a bit. If I buy his practice time from him for the rest of the year, it is going to cost me a lot of money.


Kristin R said...

Hey, what I've read (and agreed with) says to find your child's "currency." For some kids, it's candy, extra snuggle time (I wish mine were that cheap), or...Pokemon cards. Then, they advise using that "currency" when it really, really matters. For instance, getting a sticker on a chart for going potty was WAY not in either of my girls' currency. Sugar was! Would I now give them candy all day long? No way. Did I do it for a few weeks when we were potty training? Heck yeah. So, as long as the ante is gradually decreased instead of increased, it hopefully won't break the bank!

I guess you could say that $$$ is my currency...when I was a kid, we had to pass all our songs at each lesson or else we had to pay for it ourselves! I only had to pay once or twice, if I remember right. Of course, we were a lot older than Ridge, but it spoke to us! Also, when we started driving, our parents agreed to pay for our insurance until we got in an accident that was our fault or got a ticket. I still have a flawless driving record, but darn it, my parent's don't pay for my ins anymore!

Also, I have to say that I REALLY admire that you are teaching him! I keep meaning to get around to that w/M. I need to just schedule it like I would a "real" lesson. Put it on the list of "Ways I'm Failing My Children!" Seriously, kudos to you...and Ridge! ;)

kelly said...

i've been bribing my kids for 10 years!
i'm not sure how to parent without a little bribery.
we do money for piano practice too. they get an allotted amount for each song they practice with a max per day. (my kids would try and "catch up" on the days they didn't practice)

Davidsonfieldville said...

I love it and I think it's a great reminder to all of us who some issue or another to figure out- instead of getting mad and yelling at said child- BRIBE said child. I think it's great, especially if you do it only til it's necessary..cuz I don't think he'll love Pokemon forever.

Laura said...

I love your post Paige. Maybe I'll have to try something like this with Luke for homework. He's developed a real bad attitude towards homework lately, and not because I make him sit for hours on end. Just the mention of it automatically triggers a "no! not homework!" I only have him do 10-15 min. of day of at-the-table homework, plus his reading, which we usually do in my bed or on the couch. I don't think this is too much for him, but he loves to play, play, play and still thinks that's what life is all about. And at 6, yeah, he should. But I'm the one who gets in trouble at school if he doesn't do his homework. So I'm going to have to try and figure out a way to get him motivated. Thanks for your idea. You are a great mom! And most of mothering is try, try again, isn't it.

Lark said...

Whatever works! I hope it sticks!

Team Biddle said...

I like this idea, and like "Lark" said WHATEVER WORKS! :)