How Earning Privileges Creates Grateful Kids
Motivation starts with parents helping their kids identify and label privileges correctly.
Once kids learn the difference between rights and privileges, they are more motivated to earn such privileges. These kids are less likely to have a sense of entitlement, or to be hurt in the long run by that sense of entitlement.
Parents have the power to help their kids understand the difference between a right and a privilege. By teaching your kids the difference and motivating them to use their strengths to earn privileges, you empower them to achieve anything they set out to do.
Involve Your Kids To Contribute in Problem Solving
I’m reminded of Nancy, a girl who had gone on a ski trip with her friends (and a couple of parent chaperones) every year for the past three years. The year I worked with her family (in parent training), she had turned fourteen. Her father had lost his job, and her mother was working two jobs. Her mom was concerned that Nancy might not get to go that year. It was about four months before the trip, and Nancy was talking about how excited she was about this year’s trip.
At home, Nancy had been less compliant and was acting out. She had been inconsistent with doing her chores, and she had let her grades slide from a B+ the previous year, to a C average in the last semester.
One option would have been for her parents to choose not to let her go on the trip at all. It’s likely that Nancy would have viewed such a decision as “punishment.” She would have lost any motivation to “clean up her act.”
So instead of “punishing” Nancy, her parents consulted with me, and decided to tell Nancy they wanted her to go, but financially, it was difficult to make the promise. They asked her what she could do to contribute, and asked for her help in problem solving. They said, “Nancy, we really want to send you on this year’s trip. It is a privilege we’re sure you can earn. As you probably know, we don’t have the money for it right now, but we need your help to make this happen. Do you have any suggestions, or ideas as to how you can earn this trip?” Then they just listened, which allowed Nancy to feel heard. Using some of her ideas and their own, they agreed that Nancy would bring her grades up to a B- for the current semester, help more around the house, and follow through with her chores and responsibilities consistently. By using a chore list and a checklist system, her parents supervised her successfully, which kept Nancy on track.
An involved kid is a grateful kid…
With her parents’ support, encouragement, and occasional reminders about the incentive – the upcoming trip – Nancy was able to raise her grades and do most of her chores consistently. More importantly, because of her parents’ emphasis on “privileges” and “earning” such privileges, Nancy also accomplished the following:
- Per Nancy’s suggestion, she helped her dad on weekends to clean and organize their storage and categorize several boxes of items for a yard sale. As a result, they liquidated about half of their unwanted stuff and raised 70% of the budget for the trip.
- Per Mom’s suggestion, Nancy agreed to contribute 50% of her allowance each month, for four months, toward the cost of the trip. This helped Nancy to learn the meaning of sacrifice. It also helped her prioritize and truly value a privilege.
As a result of their cooperative approach in this process, Nancy appreciated that year’s ski trip more than any other year! She felt she had truly earned the privilege and as a result, enjoyed it even more! This sense of accomplishment motivated Nancy to keep her grades up and to work harder in earning other privileges that year. That summer, she went on a camping trip with her dad and two of her friends. Her parents told me later that Nancy planned and budgeted for the entire trip! Nancy felt empowered, and her parents played a huge role in guiding her and motivating her along the way. The key elements to the parents’ success included:
- Defining what is privilege
- Setting clear expectations about how she could earn the privilege
- Giving her plenty of time to meet the goal
- Guiding her along the way (helping her keep track of her progress)
- Allowing some room for mistakes
- Working together in solving a problem
Ultimately, every parent’s hope for his or her children is that they will grow up empowered by the belief that they can achieve whatever they work for. Kids are much more grateful for what they can earn.
Creating grateful kids is another important result of motivating your kid to earn privileges.
This is an excerpt from my book: “Create Happy Kids”
I am a parent strategist, and am available to do Parent Education Workshops, either Private or PTA Sponsored Classes.
Contact me at 425-772-6698.