Ako talk- Robin Grille

Robin Grille, a psychologist from Australia, delivered some real gems, and at times challenged the audience to really consider what their child might be capable of doing at a certain age. He covered the basics of why secondary rewards are problematic, drawing on the work of Alfie Kohn (Punishment by Rewards). Essentially, they don’t actually teach the child anything and in the long-run diminish creativity and risk taking. They value the outcome only, rather than valuing the process (learning) as well .

For real, self driven motivation, a child needs to learn. Children are innate learners and children learn by playing. He coined the term plearning (play=learning). When talking about getting your child to do stuff, or helping, he set out a few criteria. The task should be: meaningful, pleasurable and there should be ownership of the task. Choices should be given. He suggested that tasks could be rotated, and they could be done to music and we could even change the ‘language’ around tasks. So rather than ‘chores’ we make it a game or together time. It’s also important to imprint on the child the good feeling they get after completing a task - by acknowledging it and asking them how they feel.

We also need to role model pleasure, if we grimace everytime we have to do the washing up, then we can’t expect our children to do things happily. Another idea is to have a family meeting to agree tasks. He then moved on to talk about empathy and the need to be real with our children. To make sure our children know that we are not perfect and we are learning parents as well. We also need to get their feedback on how we treat them.

In summary he set out 5 things we should think about when thinking about motivating our children to help:

  • Togetherness
  • Music
  • Ritual
  • Games
  • Silliness