Beginning a task is easy, finishing it can be more difficult. This is a day old issue and one that is getting more and more common. Children’s levels of concentration are becoming shorter and shorter and with more and more distractions, kids often move from activity to activity without completing the first one.
Although this trait isn’t solely a youth issue, many adults are the same, I feel that I want my children to understand the importance of finishing a task. Completing a job can bring with it great reward, the satisfaction of carrying out a task to the end is an important experience for all, and especially for our children.
When children are becoming distracted when doing their homework or chores around the house, we often turn to bribery to ensure that they finish what they are doing. The classic ‘if you finish that, I will give you this’ does not allow the child to feel the reward of completing a task, the satisfaction of finishing is transferred into a different reward and the task therefore becomes unimportant. I will hold my hand up and say that I have done this on various occasions and it does help to get the job done. However, I kept noticing that this became an expectation of my children. When they were asked to do something they would start to ask what they would receive in return. I started to get worried about what I was teaching them.
Of course the way the world works is that we work and in return we receive money, but I don’t believe that this is the sole reason to work. A hard day at work means that we can pay our mortgages and put food on the table, but the satisfaction of doing a job well is much more gratifying than financial gain. I want my children to look at work not as a means to an end but as an extension of their own curiosity and personality.
Therefore, I am making a conscious effort to stop offering rewards for completing a task and have begun to explain to them that completing the job is reward enough. This has led to some interesting conversations and much conflict, but I feel it is the correct thing to do. Hopefully, if I can stick to my principals, they will see that a job well done is more than enough to satisfy their instinct to succeed.
Please let me know in the comments below whether you have experienced this with your family or with yourself, I am always interested to hear from others about their experiences.