Motivating with Competition {Boys Week}

Several weeks ago, we shared with you an author named Dr. Leonard Sax. He writes about gender differences, and in one of his books, he specifically talks about boys doing well with competition. When I read that, I started thinking of ways to use competition to motivate my son.

The problem we were having was with piano. He wanted to play piano and take lessons, but he was not being motivated to practice. I understand because when I was young and taking piano lessons that was the thing I hated most–practice.

Threatening to stop his lessons wasn’t helping. I didn’t really want to bribe him to play. I figured, if he wanted to play then he would, right?

Wrong. He wanted to be able to play piano, but he didn’t want to go through the trouble of practicing. He needed something to motivate him to sit down and play.

Dr. Sax’s book mentions examples of boys excelling in school because the teachers incorporated competition within the classroom. Since I have a background in piano, I decided I wanted to play more and get better. I told Ninja Boy that for every 10 minutes he played he would get a star. For every 10 minutes I practiced, I would get a star. Whoever had the most stars at the end of the month would get to go on a date with daddy, and the winner could choose what they would do. He of course picked golfing with daddy as his date (I never picked one because I had a feeling I would lose).

Competition Chart

I practiced for 30 minutes one day, and when he saw my stars, he was not going to let me get ahead. He practiced for almost 40 minutes that day. Unfortunately, I am busy enough that it got hard to keep up. I worried that getting so far ahead wouldn’t motivate him anymore. I was wrong. He wanted to not only win, but completely blow me out of the water.

He defeated me soundly. He practiced his piano, and his teacher noticed he had been practicing more. Mommy is happy.

Now, who really won?


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