Friday, December 3, 2010


Motivation is such an interesting force in our lives. What gets us moving? What helps us get through the hard things we really don't want to do? I have been noticing this week some very odd things that will get my daughter motivated to work through transitions, in particular.

Getting into the car is tough, for some reason especially if we're going to church, regardless of the reason for the trip. Maybe, like me, she dreads the traffic jam that we often encounter on the way. I don't think it's anything against church specifically. She will be "all ready" to go to Sunday School, except for putting on her shoes and getting in the van. We even make the order of these two steps up to her, but she suddenly hits a snag and won't  want to go. I've started asking her before she gets her shoes on, and before she starts to protest if she wants a piece of gum. Of course she does. "Go get in the van, and I'll bring you one." Off she runs to get her shoes and get in the van. I don't even have to actually connect the reward to the behavior. (Gum, by the way, counts as oral-motor input, OT bonus!)

The other day we had a similar challenge right before school. She suddenly did not want to go. I found this a little odd (and worrisome) since usually she is perfectly happy to go to school. Luckily the day before she had been quite excited to show me the new classroom job chart. It is very similar to what she had in Kindergarten, and what we use from time to time at home. Her teacher had given her the job of feeding the fish in the class aquarium. So when she balked at going to school and asked why she needed to go, I said, "So you can feed the fish, remember?" Suddenly she was more than happy to go to school again.

Dinner time has been a challenge lately, too, for some reason. She'll seem excited about what we're having for dinner, but when it comes time to sit at the table, no dice. The other night when she was saying she wasn't ever going to eat dinner I took a moment to ponder. Having observed these earlier incidents I tried to think of something that would motivate her to get to the table. We were having stew, and I had put the kids' bowls on the table already. Knowing one of these bowls, the bright pink one, is her favorite, I said, "Well, I guess if you're not eating dinner I can give the pink bowl to your sister, then..." Wow, did that get her to the table!

Gum, fish food, the pink bowl...

I have been pondering what this means for me, too. What gets me moving? What helps me get through the hard things? I'm afraid for myself I often put out the stick rather than the carrot. "If I don't get this done then tomorrow will be a disaster"-kind of thinking rather than "Won't it be nice to do a good job and finish this while I have time." I'm going to try to look for the rewards a little more. I know they're out there, though they may be not so obvious.

What gets you moving?


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