As a parent, there are some things that you pick up in a parenting book; others from the experience of others but I think there are a lot of things about parenting that we stumble upon and repeat in the hope that it will work again and again and again.
I am certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that successful people are readers. And I encourage, OK force, my children to read. To be fair, both of them love reading and have done so ever since they were little but as they grow up and discover other delights such as T.V, football, Nintendo and iPad; reading has taken a back-seat, particularly for my son and I don’t like that.
My daughter is seven and she’s coming into her own as a reader, quite a voracious one too. However, my son used to read a lot more than her, naturally, as he is two years older but now he limits it to what he reads at school. We have had to force him to read by cutting out play time. Part of it is probably to do with varying the books to subjects he is interested in, which at the moment is football, football and did I mention football? The other part appears to be simply laziness – I don’t know what else it could be. I have tried unsuccessfully to get him to willingly love reading again- you know pick up a book voluntarily and get lost in the pages sort of reading.
So three weeks ago, I came up with an idea. I set a target. I said, “you must both read at least 10 books a month but I know you can do 20, considering you don’t have jobs or adult responsibilities”. Well not in those exacts words but the sentiment was glaringly present. They seemed to take it on board after the initial shock. I saw a change but nothing too special. Yes! I’m a tiger-mum. Sue me! After a few days, it was obvious the plan had failed miserably.
Then last week, I thought of introducing a little sweetener. Pit brother against sister and introduce a COMPETITION! Muahahahahahahaha. It was ingenious! I simply said, “at the end of the month, the person who has read the most books will win a prize”.
I always knew my son was competitive. I mean at the age of three he would race you to the door and cry if you got there first. My daughter has been a revelation. She has read eight books in ten days whilst he has read nine books. Although there is some strategic planning there cos some of the books are pretty thing. But the point is they are reading, albeit for a prize. And they seem to be enjoying the process too.
Funny, they have been bugging me to get a reward chart for months but my aversion to them made me ignore the suggestion. In hindsight, I see now that they are motivated by rewards. God help me.
Now I’ve got to decide what the prize will be. Eek!