Drew is on a roll. Stickers left and right, presents rewarded, opportunities available, etc etc. Now of course we have to raise the bar, make the stakes a little steeper. And I get the jist and feel good about our progress but…
The real world doesn’t strategize an incentive program for those that don’t get it. When he goes to college, his professor isn’t going to see he’s struggling with Econ and suggest that he be rewarded with a particular jersey while in class. His wife isn’t going to use words like please keep your hands on your own body. And although these things are working for us, I’m skeptical.
He’s still a baby, I get that. I think I sometimes forget that he still is such a little thing because I have Gabby. But he still has so much to learn about socialization, how to handle circumstances, how to be appropriate. As a parent, it’s my job to do everything I can to help him to learn these essential life lessons. But giving him a crutch for every circumstance seems in some ways to be unrealistic.
Recently we have been playing a lot more games than we used to. He gets very upset when he doesn’t win. So we have been talking a lot about good sportsmanship and how even our favorite teams win and lose. It’s not about winning and losing but how you handle yourself during the game. Yadda yadda. The social worker explained that three year olds don’t really understand that concept so we could continue to let him win.
Maybe he’s too young to grasp it but soon enough the world will show him. So isn’t it my job as his parent to ease him into that lesson. If we spend years (or at least this year) showing him that he rocks at every game that he ever plays, won’t it be so devastating next year when he suddenly stops winning?
What we are doing is working now and I’m eternally grateful for that. However, I can’t help but feel that these tools may ultimately handicap him into having unreal expectations as school continues, as relationships blossom and as tasks get more difficult. I don’t think he should expect every school day that he will be individually rewarded for behaviors that are expected of school age children.
That being said, I understand that these are tools. I hope he will graduate from this level of engagement with his educators and learn to be self motivated. I hope he will realize that there is an inner feeling of success by doing what is expected of you and that be enough to perpetuate his good behavior. I hope he learns that he doesn’t want to escalate a verbal argument to a physical one because he understands the repercussions. But until then I guess I’ll have to settle for a tattoo reward as incentive for him to keep it together.