Tag Archives: Marcus Buckingham

Effectively Bribing Your Kids (For Their Own Good)

Photo Credit: laurenaweiner via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: laurenaweiner via Compfight cc

Two dollar bills, novelties themselves, seem to do the trick.

A few weeks ago I discussed using the Leadership Design Group’s eight dimensions of life as a baseline for finding balance in my life.  As I have pursued improvement in these dimensions, I find myself wondering how to get my son (and stepsons) thinking about how they develop and mature.

Not one of the four boys in my home even shave yet, so I do not expect any of them to sit down with books by Dale Carnegie, Seth Godin, or Marcus Buckingham.  Your home may have older kids who might read those types of books, but I suspect not.

So what can we, as dads, do to help them take a more holistic view of their lives and their development?

First, we can model it for them.  They see us trying to eat well, get some exercise, study, write, read, engage in healthy relationships, and laugh a lot.  They also see us struggle to eat well, get some exercise, study, write…well, you get the idea.  Bottom line: we talk about being lifetime learners and becoming better even though we do not always get it right or stay disciplined (sometimes we just want to watch a movie).

Second, we can bribe them.  And it might just work.

For the past few years, I have kept all my notes in a series of Moleskine journals.  I do not “journal” on a consistent basis, but I do keep notes/thoughts/observations/ideas in my journals.  It occurred to me I could help the kids start a journaling habit while encouraging them to consume some quality content, not just Minecraft videos on YouTube and The Maze Runner book series.

So, I made a few kid-friendly modifications to the descriptions for LDG’s eight dimensions, printed them out, and taped them into the front cover of their own personal journals.  Then, we all sat down and I explained the concept of our lives having multiple dimensions and how we need to pay attention to all aspects of our lives as we grow and mature.

Then came the bribe.

I told them they did not have to do this at all, but if any of them wanted to pick out one of the eight dimensions and let me pick out a book, article, or video for them to consume, I would pay them $2 to do it and write down a few sentences in their journal about it.  As an added bonus, I would discuss the content and their observations about it at no charge.

The results have been mixed.

The two 10-year-olds seem kind of excited to learn something new and get paid to do it.

Just yesterday, my youngest stepson asked about putting money in the bank.  So, I told him we could parle this conversation into a journal entry.  Together we watched a short video on compounding interest, we discussed it, he asked several questions, and then wrote down a few sentences about what he learned.  And he did not hesitate to take “Jefferson” out of my hands.

Only one of the boys has not taken me up on the offer, but he just sat in on the compounding interest lesson, so he may not be far off.

The idea of being able to pick out lessons, stories, or videos (TED talks can be very effective…especially with older kids) from sources you trust is only eclipsed by the ability to generate a positive conversation between you and your kids while letting an “expert” be the one to provide the lesson/lecture.  It gives you the opportunity to agree with a trusted figure rather than lecture.

We all know how much kids like lectures from parents.

I would love your feedback about this idea, and I would also appreciate suggestions about great content for kids related to their growth and development.

“Ts” Of Single Fatherhood – Transformation

When The Transformers made their debut in the US, it was 1984 – my freshman year in high school.  Just a little too old for the action figures, I managed to watch the cartoon on occasion.  The novelty of a car or plane transforming into a robot and battling the forces of evil still held appeal to this 14-year-old.

By Avid Liongoren (http://society6.com/avidliongoren)

By Avid Liongoren (http://society6.com/avidliongoren)

My parents never bought me one of the Hasbro action figures (poor me), but several friends had them.  Transforming those toys from the vehicle into the robot seemed simple, but if one of my friends handed me the robot, transforming it back into the vehicle challenged me.  I could not seem to “see” the vehicle and clumsily bent hinges and twisted appendages until something seemed to take form.

Occasionally, I forced an arm or leg in a direction it was not intended to go.  You can imagine the result.

As dads, we want our kids to thrive and succeed as adults.  How do we help them in this transition/transformation?

Forcing them into something we have in our minds could result in breakage.

Our job as dads is to help them discover what vehicle they can become.  How do they engage, how do they learn, and how to they relate to others.

For this, I recommend another resource.  Jenifer Fox wrote “Your Child’s Strengths” – an excellent resource to help identify what makes your kids tick, what stimulates learning, and how they interact with people

Marcus Buckingham, known for his strengths-based approach to personal/professional growth, wrote the forward.  Dr. Fox does a very thorough job of unpacking this concept for kids.  A warning – she unpacks a lot of information, but also provides great tools and resources.

If this passage from the book resonates with you at all, you may want to take heed:

“These days, with parents increasingly pushing their kids to excel and focus earlier, the consequences for children are worrisome.  your child’s strength path is her own.  take notice of her uniqueness and the things she naturally gravitates toward and allow her to explore those in ways that feel positive and comfortable to her.” (“Your Child’s Strengths” page 111)

I cannot wait to see what my son becomes, and hope I do not do anything to force him to become a 1984 Freightliner Semi when he is uniquely designed to become a 1983 Porsche 911 Turbo.

Those are references to Optimus Prime and Jazz in case you’re wondering.

What unique quality – different from one of yours – have you seen in your kids?