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Are Incentives for Kids a Good Idea?

Incentives for Kids

Is incentivizing your Kids a good idea?

Incentives may work great in the short term as they give those partially bewildered Kids something other than Ice Cream vans to chase after. And, if the incentives greatly outweigh the effort needed to accomplishing the tasks, they’ll even do the work.

But what happens AFTER the incentives stop? And AFTER they’re left to their own devices?

The problem with the “wrong” kind of incentive, is that they program Kids into believing that there’s always gonna be someone there to “incentivize” them along. And that life is as about as predictable and about as easy as taking down a few bad guys in a video game.

That means Children who had been infected with “Incentiviziz” (the inability to perform without incentives) will have a hard time talking themselves into going after anything that doesn’t have at least a cookie waiting for them at the finish line. And rarely attempt anything that carries the risk of messing up their hairdo or breaking a sweat. Also, if the task was gonna make them late for their favorite TV show, they’ll find it more incentivizing to drop everything in midair and run to their TVs like life depended on it.

But not all incentives are bad. After all, if our jobs didn’t pay us at the end of the week or month, we’ll probably not be doing them at all. So, incentives (where necessary) must be “proportionate” to the amount of work involved. If you’re a car salesman, you don’t get a car for selling one (not even a model car). Instead, you get a “teeny tiny percentage” of each sale made.

Incentives must also be subjected to a “germination period”. That’s because we all know that even the most enthusiastic of car salesmen rarely make a sale on their very first day.

So, by training these “little dragons” (aka Kids) into delaying gratification early, you’re setting them up to enjoy life a whole lot more, later on. In fact, research shows that the people who are the happiest are those who make a regular habit of “delaying gratification”.

At the same time, give them a glimpse of what their futures would be like, if they chose to take the “blue pill” over the “red pill” and vice versa. The “blue pill” gives them the opportunity to “chill now” and “choke later”, whereas the “red pill” kicks their butts and pushes them into taking action right away. The red pill also comes with the added side effect (or benefit) of pinching their butts, whenever they show signs of “slowing down” (much like what happens to Jason Statham in the movie “Crank”).

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You can help your Kids paint a vivid picture (on their own) of how awesome life can be 20-30 years from now, if they were to take the red pill. And how “scary” life could turn out, if they go with a “blue pill prescription” instead.

So, if you’re already living the good life (as a result of choosing the red pill), take them to your old neighborhood back when life wasn’t as too “pretty” (if it’s safe enough to do so). And tell them which of your decisions got you there and what you did differently afterwards to catapult your life (and luggage) in a whole new “favorable” direction.

But don’t just say it. Live the part! Let them witness the drive and the strive, that “enables” you to live the good life or is helping you to get there. Just as importantly, tell them what you’re up to every step of the way (unless of course you’re running a Drug Cartel or something).

Kids only do what they’re told when their “playtime” is at stake. At all other times, they’re busy “recording” everything that they see and hear, so that they could “relive” those chapters in vivid detail at a later phase in life. That’s why a Child whose been the victim of 12 divorces, 90 bad food recipes and 200 toe injuries is very likely to do the same (or worse), when they feel they’re old enough to be “labelled” as adults.

Aside from “justified incentives”, the best way to help our Kids is to allow them to knock themselves out a few times, all on their own. And then be there for them with an ice pack, a plate of cookies and some bandages, to nurse them back into wholeness as supportive and empathizing Parents.

Children (much like us) learn many of their important lessons through failure. Besides, if we hadn’t burnt ourselves at some point as little children and came to the realization that playing with fire was not as much fun, many of your neighbors would’ve moved out years ago.


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