This week, my girlfriend (also a writer/reporter type) and I were on Facebook making bets. She wants to start a 30-day sugar detox. I want to exercise every day for the first straight 30 (as a start) in the New Year. And, as we tried to figure out the incentives for the bets (yes, they are monetary. And yes, I do better when there's actual money at stake) - we decided we should get the kids and our families involved. We could make them go without sugar, the first idea. But, at ages 10 and 7 that would just be next to impossible and likely unnecessary.
Instead, I suggested giving them incentives for adding to their diet - not for depriving them of things. So, for every fruit and vegetable they eat starting January 1, 2013, they get a point. And, for every NEW fruit and veggie they try eating this next 30 days, they get 2 points. Granted, our four kids between the two of us, eat pretty well already. They have their moments of sugar and french fries (which I think is fine), but for the most part they get a few fruit and veggies into their days everyday. This incentive is just to get them thinking even more about the challenge of meeting their goals on a daily basis.
As soon as I suggested the mini contest to my very competitive girls, they not only were super excited - they immediately made out their point charts and hung them up. Aria (7) then gobbled up her Indian bread made with spinach to get the green in and ate her side of oranges, strawberries, and blackberries. We went for lunch at Slurping Turtle yesterday, a new Ramen joint here in Chicago, and they both tried the veggies in my Tofu Ramen bowl to meet the requirement. Funny thing is, we don't even start the challenge officially till tomorrow!
All four kids will also get prizes if they log 150 points or more each by February 1. The prizes include a variety of things including a Sweet & Sassy mani pedi...a DSi game....books....trips to a museum of choice. It can be anything, and frankly for my kids the prize isn't even the focus. Though, it helps a lot.
Just like adults need and crave incentives for our new goals, so do kids. Just like we crave companionship and the buddy system as we struggle through goals, so do the kids. All four will be connecting through email and by phone. (We live in different states, and the kids have yet to meet!) And just like us, the kids need to see the follow through. At the end of this process the moms must reward the great behavior with the said incentives.
Though the prizes are great, along the way, our kids will hopefully gain so much more. Try it with your own kids. Once again - make it a game. Make it fun. Make it challenging too (no points if they truly don't eat the fruit and veggies). And...you may just be amazed how driven your own kids can be.