Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Work as a reward

Stella, the ambitious leaf-mover
Husband Walter’s photo of our 22-month-old granddaughter Stella caught her busy “cleaning” a neglected flowerbed of leaves and depositing them on a walkway to our backdoor during a recent visit. Stella’s fascination with the tools and process of cleaning reminded me of an eye-opening experience more than two decades ago.

I had dropped by for a quick visit with my sister-in-law Lila. Her two girls were both younger than seven or eight at the time. The oldest was the same age as my youngest son. Usually they would be eager to greet visitors. This time, however, the impression grew that they were eager all right, eager for me to leave. What was going on?

“Oh, I promised them that if they cleaned their room really well, they could help me mop,” Lila explained. I was amazed that Lila couldn’t hear the fireworks going off in my head. What a concept – rewarding good behavior with . . . work! I had already missed the boat on that one, but I sure did wish that I had encountered that concept earlier!


  1. Awesome,being rewarded to "get to mop". I wonder if I could reward them too.

  2. I seriously doubt that would have worked on your youngest son, for, as I remember, he was far too intelligent to be tricked into mopping.

  3. Nice one! We too have similar experience. Our daughter likes to wipe the dining table dinner.And we 'utilize' it sometimes to persuade her away from sweets or ice cream.

  4. @Basanta: Ah! Strategic parenting at work! All the best to you in the attention and creativity you invest in nurturing your daughter. I am learning more and more as a grandparent about the different strategies -- and joys -- that come with little girls.