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 short-term 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
Using the same approach, with a little alteration can emphasize mastery without unwanted consequences. Let’s Gab about it!
Step 1: Acknowledge Improvement/Mastery. Help your child write a list of achievements that measure improvement or mark mastery. Ideas might include scoring a season best on an event, sticking a beam routine, smiling during a floor routine, or encouraging another teammate. Find more ideas on Gym Gab’s Rewards Jar List free download.
Step 2: Decorate a Jar. Make sure you choose a jar that won’t be filled too fast or take too long. You can find gymnastics-themed decoration on Amazon (check out Shop This Post) at the bottom of this post. Don’t forget to add a layer of Mod Podge at the end.
Step 3: Fill the Jar. At the end of the meet, acknowledge improvement and mastery by letting your child add an item to the jar for something they were proud of accomplishing and one for each previously determined achievement. Bonus: Have your child share add items to the jar for accomplishments during workout!
Item ideas can include jellybeans, marbles, pom-pom balls, etc. Make sure the jar is a reasonable size for the items that will be filling it!
Step 4: Surprise them with a Larger Reward. When your child fills the jar, you can reward them with an item such as a leotard or girls night out!
I use this incentive program with my gymnastics teams, in the form of a sticker chart. When the sticker chart is filled, the team gets a party. 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!