As Fall competition season is in full swing, there are many parents wondering how they can help their child excel during meets. The most commonly used tactic? Bribery. Although the dangling of a carrot may result in improved performance, it can also be detrimental if poorly executed. I’ve heard of parents offering astronomical amounts of money to their child “if you win first place.” Although the intention is to motivate, the incentive and goal can have negative results:
Poor Sportsmanship – Gymnasts focus on the performance of others in order to secure their spot on top. This can lead to ill-wishes on their teammates or other competitors.
Frustration – Because gymnasts can only control their own performance, they may feel discouraged when their best routine is not good enough to win.
Incentive Reliance – Gymnasts only give a full effort if the reward is of true desire. The bribe usually requires increased value each meet/season.
The Rewards Jar – A Positive Motivational Tool
Step 1: Decorate a Jar. I used scrapbook paper and stickers such as these (1) Go Big Scrapbook Kit, (2) Gymnastics Karen Foster Paper, (3) Jolee’s Boutique Stickers, (4) Gymnastics Cardstock Stickers, (5) I Love Gymnastics Stickers, or (6) Gymnastics Fan Stickers and covered them with a layer of Mod Podge.
Step 2: Decide how Pom Pom balls (marbles, etc.) can be Earned. Examples: (1) Scoring a Season best on an Event, (2) Sticking Beam Routine, (3) Completing Bar Routine w/o stops or falls, (4) Smiling During Floor Routine, (5) Giving a compliment to another teammate, or (6) Scoring a 9.0 or higher (choose a challenging/obtainable score for your gymnast.)
Step 3: Fill the Jar. Have your gymnast review their meet. Let them add a pom pom for something they were proud of and one for each previously determined achievement.
Step 4: Offer a Larger Reward. When the gymnast fills the jar (make sure you choose a jar appropriate in size), reward them with an item such as a leotard or girls night out!
I use the incentive program with my gymnasts, in the form of a sticker chart. When the sticker chart is filled, the team gets a party during gym. It is amazing what my girls will do, how hard they will work, what fears they will conquer, all for a smiley face sticker. Keep the $100.00 bills to pay for next years increased competition fees, and offer your gymnast a pom pom instead. You’ll be amazed!