My daughter is eight. She still kind of listens to me and thinks that I actually know something. I know it will be all too quick before she thinks I’m extremely out of touch and don’t know which end of the wet paper bag to get out of.
As children get older, though, they do like to do things with their friends, and many of these things require money. With privilege comes responsibility — including the responsibility to pay for it. All of this to say that children tend to listen more carefully (or at least should) if there’s money on the line.
So one trick, perhaps, in getting through to older children (middle- or high-school age) is to incentivize judiciously good habits that will benefit them. Not good behavior, but good habits.
Filling time productively by taking away a giant time sink
I admit it. I go through withdrawal if I can’t get online. The Internet can effectively suck all excess productivity out of one’s life if it’s allowed to. And if I were to list ten websites that sing the prettiest siren songs, I know that Facebook would be up there.
Facebook by itself isn’t bad. I use it all the time to keep in touch with my friends, old and new, as well as colleagues. It’s the games and other time sinks that kill productivity. My time sink of choice is Zynga Texas Hold’Em. (I don’t play it as much as I used to but at least I enjoy playing pickup games with friends in real life a lot more now.)
Paul Baier has made a deal with his 14-year-old daughter. He has agreed to pay her $200 if she can quit Facebook for a little under five months.
This wasn’t his idea. This was his daughter’s idea. It was his daughter that has already found Facebook to be a distraction. (Smart!)
A cheap investment in his daughter’s success
This doesn’t send a bad parenting signal. He’s not paying her up front. It’s not bribery. The money comes during and after performance of the contract ($50 halfway through, $150 at the end).
Here are reasons why this $200 is very wisely spent:
- The $200 is substantial for her, but likely pocket money for him. Perfect! He can make a big impact with relatively little cost to him. A lot of bang for his buck.
- The $200 opens up several hundred hours of her time. Let’s say that she was spending 3 hours a day on Facebook. (She admitted that she was wasting a lot of time on there.) Three hours a day for 142 days is over 400 hours. What could she accomplish if she focused on it for 400 hours? Many things!
- The $200 will remind her that she can accomplish great things. I don’t remember every good grade on every test I took, but I do remember most monetary prizes I got. Knowing that you ditched Facebook for nearly five months is a good thing to remember.
- The $200, for this reason, will encourage her to invest in herself. The more she recognizes unproductive behaviors, the better off she’ll be, and the more positive an impact her life will have.
He’s not paying her off. He’s not spending money on her.
He’s investing in her. That’s a big difference.
What’s your take?