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.