Two days ago after I noticed my kids had their noses in their iPads all day or until it runs out of power (whichever came first) I felt that I had to do something fast before their brains turned into mush. The problem is I have to work and I can't watch them all day so I had to be a little creative.
I decided to do something very simple and see how it pans out: every night I'd give my daughter a list of tasks to do throughout the following day. Each task had a measure for achievement and another measure for overachievement. All she had to do is to perform the task and tick the appropriate box next to it once done. If she achieves it all she gets BD1 and if she goes the extra mile she gets BD2.
It's only been two days and I still can't believe the amount of excitement it created! When I got home from work that first day she couldn't wait to tell me what she has achieved and to my pleasant surprise I found that she decided to go the extra mile on all the tasks.
Last night I prepared the second task list and posted it on her board and in the morning I explained what needed to be done so earlier in my office I got this whatsapp voice note from her asking me to send her the link for the quraan verse she's supposed read today.
Some of the tasks were reading a book or drawing a picture and others were aimed at engaging her brother or helping him with his summer homework. One of them is always a writing exercise to engage her imagination such as what would it feel like to be a fly.
Most will say that my HR persona has spilled over into my home and I don't mind that at all. Every group of people with a shared objective is considered an organization and most organizational insights provide great benefit in home organizations and vice versa.
Doing this helped me realize a few things about human behavior irrespective of age:
- Giving someone a purpose and incentive means you have given them motivation and excitement; something to look forward to and a sense of achievement.
- When people know what is expected of them they will perform. When they know what going the extra mile looks like they are more likely to go that extra mile and not settle for the minimum.
- Timely reward that is constant and proportional assures the continuity of the whole process.
It's amazing how much we can learn about ourselves and others just by observing our children. Their basic, almost primal instincts are the best testing grounds to see how the world is constructed and how human behavior is influenced by our surroundings. Most importantly, they teach us simplicity in an increasingly complex world...