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Many people enjoy using charts and graphs to track progress. They can be very effective. I urge you not to rely too heavily on them, however because they tend to make us think of extrinsic rewards. “What do I get when I have a star in every square?” If you do decide to make rewards part of your strategy, choose rewards that can be considered less materialistic. Go to a movie together instead of buying a toy.
What works best is a thank you with a statement of worth about action. “Thanks for picking up living room. It puts me in such a good mood to live in a neat home.” (Remember two intrinsic motivators, pride and importance of action?) Or, a verbal pat on back. “Now that your homework is done and your head is size of a watermelon, what fun thing are you going to enjoy?”
Remember to be sporadic with your compliments and praise. A compliment delivered with every action sounds insincere. Never forget reinforcing power of a smile or a hug.
Empathy is ability to feel what another person is feeling and is foundation of intrinsic motivator number two: an understanding of importance in applying desired behavior. Years of teaching elementary students gave me a clear understanding of need to teach children empathy. From charismatic manipulator, to bully, to social outcast, not being able to identify with other people’s feelings can lead to problems.
Talk about your feelings with each other often. Always remember, however never to assign blame to another person when expressing an emotion. Instead of saying, “You made me so mad when I was late for work because you overslept!” a better way to build empathy would be to say, “Once clock gets past 8:20 I start getting nervous about being late for work. My stomach gets acidy and I can almost hear my boss yelling at me again. I sure would appreciate it if you would be downstairs by 8:15.” You have given your reasons on many different levels of comprehension: visual image of clock, physical sensation in your stomach, sound of an angry boss.
CREATE A CONDUCIVE ENVIRONMENT
Above all else, model motivated behavior. That one thing in itself will motivate others beyond anything else you do. Designate your home as a caring community. “Everyone who lives here supports each other.” Don’t tolerate teasing or other forms of meanness in your home.
Another important factor in keeping atmosphere of your home uplifting is to limit complaining. Many of us are in habit of coming home and letting off steam about idiots we must face each day. That old homily, “Leave your troubles on doorstep” should not be forgotten. Consider effect on a child’s motivation to grow up and enter work world when he or she continuously hears adults complaining about their jobs.
CONTRIBUTE TO POSTIVE HEALTH HABITS
Eat right, drink lots of water and get plenty of exercise. When you feel good physically, it is so much easier to be enthusiastic and cheerful!
Use one of your self-improvement evenings each week to take a walk outside. Wear your intelligent caps while you are on your walk and talk with each other about things you encounter. I’ll bet you can teach each other a lot.
Have an energy snack available when you are working or creating at home. Slice fruit and cheese and serve with a fortified, whole grain cracker. You are supplying vitamins, calcium and fiber. One of best fibers for digestive system is pectin found in apples. Float apple slices in ice water with a spritz of lemon juice and they won’t turn brown.
The final word is consistency. If you are determined to reach your goals, follow through. So, good luck! Apply these concepts and you will have a happier, healthier family!
Jean Fisher is a former elementary teacher who now spends her time creatingwww.whatsfordinner.net a free service that suggests one delicious meal seven days a week, provide an organized shopping list customized to include all your shopping needs, plus two stimulating table topics and one educational after-dinner activity for each day. email@example.com