Who knew kids could be so motivated by something so common? We tried special snacks. Occasional small toys as “special treats”. M&Ms. Trips to the bouncy house. Promised excursions to the beach. Positive words, hugs, high-fives, thumbs up, big celebration song and dance… But none of those things worked consistently to motivate good behavior. And none of them could subsequently be taken away as a consequence of misbehavior.
But then we found rocks. You can buy them at Wal-Mart. Or you can just comb the ground with your eyes when you’re outside. You’re bound to find a few rocks (as any toddler). Here’s how it works for us. The very first rock I gave was for specific good behavior (a trip to a restaurant with no whining). I promised that I would never take that rock away. It’s hers for good and she can keep it where ever she’d like. And she could earn more rocks for respecting mama and doing what is asked of her. The catch is, those rocks can be taken away. For instance, she gets a rock for sharing her favorite toy with her brother; but if she turns around and snatches it away from him a minute later, I’ll take that rock back. And it’s gone forever – she can never earn that particular rock back. Sure, she can find her own rocks when we’re outside, but for some reason that doesn’t detract from the excitement of a rock mama gives as a reward for good behavior. This week, we’re going to see if she’ll make her bed every day to earn a rock at the end of the week…
At 3, this works great. I’m not sure my 17-month old has the logic to put it all together, but I do reward him with rocks when he’s behaving really well. And it’s amazing how quickly he learned that a rock thrown is a rock taken away.
Great motivation for little ones! For more Works for Me tips, head over to Rocks in My Dryer.