We’ve probably all experimented with a “rewards chart” with our kids to create incentives. Maybe you tried it once, it lasted a week, and you never tried it again. Honestly, that’s how I felt about the whole “reward” system. It just seemed like a lot of work, and it was too hard to keep up with.
Well, recently, I found myself in a full out struggle to get my 6-year-old to practice the piano. I mean it was torture. If it weren’t for my husband, I probably would’ve thrown in the towel.
My hubby kept encouraging me to help her stick with it and try to find some creative way to make her want to practice. Because let’s be honest, at age 6, how many kids really want to practice anything?
It kept popping in my head how much my daughter loved her reward “status” chart at school. She’s in kindergarten and every day that I pick her up, she loves showing me that she’s on one of the top tiers. When she wasn’t on the top tier a couple of days, it really got her motivated to never be in that location again.
I knew this is something she loved, I just needed to sit down and take a little time and do some research. As I was doing that, my mother-in-law gave me a great idea for a reward system for practicing. She’d been using a similar approach with all the grandkids and it was working great.
Thinking I had nothing to lose, I decided to give it a go. It’s like night and day when it comes to practicing piano. My daughter is loving it; she asks — yes, asks! — to practice now and is working hard for her reward.
Here’s what I did — and what you can do for any type of practice (instruments, sports, chores, homework). I called mine “Piano Points,” but you can call yours whatever you’d like.
The key is to make the rewards levels achievable for kids in a short enough period of time and use things they’d like to work for as incentive — that’s why I chose to make two levels. My daughter can turn in 10 marbles for smaller items or experiences, or work for a bigger experience. She’s super excited about the pass to stay up 30 minutes past her bedtime. And honestly, I would have never thought little things like that would’ve motivated her so much.
I am so glad I reconsidered our reward system. It has been a game changer in our house. At the same time, I also believe it’s equally important to encourage kids as they’re learning and help them see the value in how much they’re accomplishing. I wouldn’t want to miss the passion of learning a new instrument — but sometimes a little extra boost along the way is needed.
Take it from my 16-year old, who quit piano after only a year or so around age 10. She now says, “Mom, why did you let me quit? I wish you would’ve made me stick with it.”
I was once there myself and I wish I would’ve stuck with it, too. So, this time… I’m giving my younger daughter a little extra nudge. And the rewards seem to be doing the trick.
How do you get your kids to practice, complete chores, etc.?