Children need boundaries set: the trick is enforcing these boundaries effectively. Some things are unquestionable and a definite ‘No’, but it is the day-to-day little things that are exhausting. I can find myself barking orders continually and it is so wearing and counter productive.  We all need something to look forward to.  February half term can be an excellent time to take a well deserved break and recharge your batteries.

When my eldest daughter was born, now 8, I had lots of ideas about how wonderfully we would bring her up.  That was while I was pregnant, before I joined the real world of being a parent and realised that children do not always have the same ideas as their parents!  I had though that she wouldn’t watch television, we would be too busy doing other things.  In this imaginary world, I would have endless patience, never be tired and have all the time in the world to be perfect!!

This idea changed the summer she was 2 – we had a very hot summer and the only way to get her inside was to turn the television on. She was also at an age when afternoon naps were becoming a thing of the past. We both needed time out and television provided this time, she would sit down and relax for a while, and I found I finally had the opportunity to mop the floor!

I also had similar ideas about bribery when I was pregnant! I would be able to speak to her… reason with her…we would negotiate…  How naïve I was in those early days!

Well now we have three children and I do negotiate  (a lot!) and sometimes our time and how we spend it is the thing we are negotiating about. I have learned that incentives can be very useful.

  • Yes you can have a snack when you get in from school, once you are changed and your uniform is hung up.
  • Yes you can play on the X box, when you have written out your spellings  and read some of your reading book.
  • Yes you will be able to go to a sleepover at the weekend, when your bedroom is tidy.
  • Yes you can have some pudding, when you have eaten some more vegetables.

Just a few examples of incentives frequently used. I am sure not everyone would agree with my methods, but we all have our own ideas and this mainly works well in our house.

In reality life does have an awful lot of incentives. Working has many rewards or incentives, we do work to be paid and would we really work for free? Working is of course a big part of life and does take a lot of time, but it is all worthwhile when you are able to plan time to spend together and enjoy a holiday. With our unpredictable British weather there are many family activities to make the most of and all of the family can enjoy a well deserved break. Holidays can also be enjoyed at most times of the year, a break during a cold and otherwise non-eventful time of year can be very refreshing.

In my view incentives are better than barking orders, which don’t always work, and incentive is a much nicer word than bribe.