A dad I work with had to take his three young sons to a long, boring meeting in an attorney’s office. He was sweating it because his boys were likely to act up.

To inspire them to great behavior, he offered the reward of “Candy for dinner and movies till you fall asleep!”

Now THAT was motivation to these three! (Not to mention a desperate parent.) On the way there, he upped the odds of their success by playing “What If” and asking what things might keep them from earning their reward. The oldest brother speculated that the middle brother might “make me mad.” They talked through how the oldest could manage that. They went through a variety of scenarios so that the boys would know how to handle themselves.

Once in the office, he broke the hour and half into six chunks of 15 minutes each. For each 15 minutes that they went with good behavior, they earned a point. Four points earned them the dinner of their dreams… candy. Those boys may not have been able to get through 90 minutes perfectly, but they were angels for almost every one of those 15-minute chunks and they got their reward. Don’t worry, dad had to pay the next day with grumpy, tired boys… but he got through the meeting intact.

Kerry Stutzman, MSW