Friday, November 2, 2007

Education Motivation

This week my son was able to get an XBox 360 game system which he had been asking about for many months. Initially we told him that we had enough game systems in the house and that we were not going to purchase another one for him. This wasn't the first time we had this stance with him.

About three or so years back, he wanted to get a Playstation 2 - mostly because he saw a cool game come out exclusively for that system. Up to that point, he had an original Playstation with only a couple games and a Nintendo GameCube, bought mostly because of his interest in Pokemon games which were pretty exclusive to that platform. We told him that if he wanted a Playstation 2 that he would have to save the money for it himself. Well, he did just that. He gave up spending his allowance from the beginning of the year through Lent. By Easter, between his allowance and other saved and earned money, he had enough to buy his PS2. We figured that was a good lesson for him at age nine - that you need to save your money for what you want.

Jump ahead to this summer. While he liked his Ninetendo Wii well enough, he really really wanted to get the XBox 360. Again, we said we would not buy it for him just because he wanted it. We decided to strike a deal, given that the new school year was coming up. We told him that if he could save up half the money for the new system (those suckers are very expensive) AND if he could earn A's or B's in all of his classes for the first nine weeks of school that we would pay for the other half of the new game system.

Report cards came home on Wednesday of this week, and he managed to pull straight A's. So, we picked up the new system and one game (again, he paid half on this first game and we paid the other half) - Madden 2008.

But, there was also an additional condition to this deal. Should his grades slip out of the A/B Honor Roll during subsequent grading cycles, that would mean that the system would become off-limits for him until the next report card period completed. We will expect the grades to be back up into A/B Honor Roll in order for him to re-earn the priviledge to use the system. In short, by paying for half the system, we reserved the right to repossess our "half" the system until the grades were again acceptable. And, not surprisingly, the parental "half" of the system consists of the power cable, the controllers and the video input cables to the television. Amazing how that worked out. ;)

Hard-ball parenting? Maybe. I like to think of it as more of creative parenting, providing a way for rewarding positive behavior (in this case, good grades). So far, he earned the grades to get the system. That means he'll have it to play for the next nine weeks - up into the middle of January. I'll keep you posted on whether or not he'll be playing any of those new games he'll want at Christmas by the time Valentine's Day rolls around.

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