It was a pretty rough area, and I was a substitute teacher nearly every day for two years. The kids were hardened at a very tender age. How was I to get through to them and get them to do the work when I was just a sub? As you may remember from your own elementary school years, substitute teachers are subject to a lot of jokes and tricks even in middle-class neighborhoods, so this was quite a challenge for me, newly minted educator that I was, fresh from college.
However, I had a secret weapon. Bless my professors for making us read alternative education theories. I quickly applied some positive motivation at the very beginning of class. But, and here's the real secret, I asked them what they wanted – what the most fun thing would be for them to do the last fifteen minutes of class if they got all their work done. I gave them options, so they did not think they could go out and cruise the streets. The favorite was dancing … my favorite too as it happens. So we got the work done, and we danced. The last fifteen minutes was their reward and they were willing to work all day for it.
So, if you were to ask your kids what the best reward would be for them, might you be surprised at the answer? I think yes, because it's often more time with you. That's right, more time with the people they rarely see and need respectably to feel approved, accepted, and appreciated by. We all need those things, but children even more.
So how can you apply that same principle to any discipline you want to teach your children? Simply sit down with them to do a special project that will change both your lives. First of all, do this with one child at a time so they have special attention and no other parent or sibling. I've seen over and over how people open up to one other person, but not two other people, and especially not with a brother or sister there, too!
Now make a chart or booklet of two pages. Have fun coloring or drawing on the cover or page borders first. This will open both your hearts and minds. After that's done, ask your child to think about what his or her favorite reward would be (between money) for the things that are difficult for them to do. Then start filling in the chart on one side with tasks, such as getting outside and exercising, brushing teeth before bed without being told, cleaning the bedroom, helping with dishes, coming home on time, doing homework, etc. Then fill in the other side of the page with how many points that is worth. You decide how many points it will take to earn the reward. Disney World might be 10,000 points, fifteen minutes with Mom might be just 20 points.
Make up your own game as you see how it works for you in your home. Do it all with love and you will succeed!