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Our six year old son is like any other child his age- Curious and Excited! He is a very affectionate and melts my heart away with his smile and that out and out innocent look. He, like all of us, carries his own share of positives and negatives. I don't favor child comparison nor do I endorse it. However, unlike his own sister and many other kids, he is a finicky eater. As such the tricks that work for other don't work on him.
Feeding him is an uphill task and I believe most parents struggle to feed their kids with healthy food, so this problem is not unique but a matter of grave concern. As a parent, I need to strike that perfect balance (elusive in most cases) in feeding him the food of his choice and that's healthy for him. I am a conscious parent but at the same time my heart breaks to see him eat his meals with a long face.
Our son is intelligent and a keen observer. I say that because at times even when he seems to be lost in his own world, he observes everything that's going on around him. We may feel he is not paying attention but then he has surprised us many times by touching upon the long-forgotten topic when we least expected it to come our way! Hence, we have to be very careful in handling him albeit delicately.
As a class one student, he is getting to explore the world with lot more opportunities bestowed on him. Thus, his excitement knows no bounds. He asks too many questions, which is fine because that's an indispensable part of childhood and kids his age. Sometimes we are at loss of words.
Of late, the two of us have become more like friends and he shares his heart with me. Be it fighting in class to not eating his lunch, running around in school, playing in the sun & rain and getting hurt etc. However, in spite of all this, most times, he wants to flow against the tide that makes us feel we are not able to motivate him enough.
Not that we don't want him to be different but at the same time we have to be careful about his freedom lest he might begin to take us for a joyride end up doing something that's unwarranted and hurtful to his own self.
We have tried different methods with him. We have tried to reason with him. We have tried to explain him. We have tried scolding him. We have tried to coerce him. We have done everything in our capacity as parents to ensure he eats right. But none of the tricks have worked enough to bring about a positive change in him. But the Star & Chart Game seems to be working absolutely fine with him!
What we Did
We simply pasted a chart in our room, bought several packs of decorative stars and got started. Through this method we have been able to convey to him the importance of hard work and perseverance. He is taking his lessons seriously now and the two of us are feeling really proud!
How it Works
1. We have defined targets for him.
2. He has to complete the given task to be eligible for earning a star.
3. Some tasks carry more star-value than the others basis the difficulty quotient.
4. He has to complete a task to earn his stars. Some tasks are time bound others are discipline based while some are consistent/mundane.
5. Eating meals = 1 star, clean uniform + lunch at school = 1 star, sleeping on time = 1 star, completing homework neatly = 1 star etc.
6. A particular set of stars has a prize attached to it eg. 5 stars = a chocolate, 10 stars = a box of pencils, 100 stars = a cycle.
7. We involved him in deciding the value of each task/star.
8. The best part is that he himself has decided the number of starts that should qualify him for earning his gifts.
9. If he behaves well he gets the bonus of maggi/pasta etc instead of shake/oats/dalia on a particular day.
1. He has become more cautious and disciplined than ever. No, it doesn't mean there's all work and no play!
2. He maintains a constant vigil over the number of stars he has earned in a particular day and strives to work hard to earn more stars.
3. He in inculcating a positive habit of counting his positive & negative habits and maintaining a healthy balance.
4. He has become a disciplined eater. He has started demanding food and better still eating his meals with a smile on his face.
5. He is a child but is already learning the worthy lessons about “Earning” his stars.
6. There is a positive change in his overall mannerism and attitude.
As parents, it fills our hearts with immense joy that our kid is at least eating well. Rest, we don't mind him bringing the roof down with his naughtiness as long as we are contended with his eating habits!
No doubt, these magical stars are working like a wonder in motivating our son! It's like a dream come true, really.
Thank you for your patience and valuable time. Appreciate your feedback and comments!