Monday, January 28, 2013

Motivated by Trashies

7AM yesterday morning, a Sunday morning mind you, my son was up and knocking on our bedroom door.

I was still tired from my business trip and was hoping to sleep in a little longer, but I guess I should have been thankful that Kai waited even until 7:00 to wake us up. I went out into the hallway to see what was up.

“Dad, we have to go running right now!”

It was about nine months ago that Kai was motivated to run by the incentive of collecting cute/gross little rubbery creatures known as Ickee Stickeez. Alas, there were only 24 of those and when Kai had collected them all, his motivation to run ended.

This weekend, Kai discovered another set of cute/gross little rubbery creatures. These are called the Trash Pack, and unlike with Ickee Stickeez, the folks behind these Trashies know how to market to kids, having developed accessories and games to go with the little guys.

When Kai develops a hankering for something, he wants to collect them all. And with already several dozen Trashies on the market, this should keep him motivated for quite a long time.

So on Sunday morning, Kai was ready to go running. He had heard that a storm was forecasted so he wanted to get out early.

“Come on, Dad. We have to go before the storm comes.”

We got dressed and went out. As he is older and has grown since last year, I extended the route a little bit.

Kai groaned and complained that he was tired and could not make it. I was frustrated, but kept encouraging him. And while I was tempted to withhold his prize, I gave it to him but told him he would have to show improvement in his next run.

A few hours later, he wanted to go running again. He wanted to earn another Trashie.

One run a day is enough, I told him. But he was persistent.

“What if I exercise? I’ll do 50 sit-ups and 20 pushups and 25 jumping jacks.”

Hmm, I had been wanting to get him to exercise more.

50 jumping jacks, not 25. And you have to do everything nicely for it to count.

We started with the jumping jacks. His coordination is not good. And he doesn’t stretch out his arms very far.

We stopped him several times as my wife and I tried to explain what he needed to do. Finally, he did them a little better.

Next it was sit-ups.

He could barely get off the ground from a flat surface. My wife told him to lean back against his big blue pillow. Then he was able to do 50.

Finally, pushups.

This was the hardest of all. There was no way he could do ten, let alone 20.

My wife tried to show Kai how to do it with his knees on the floor. But somehow he could not do it. He moved his head up and down but not his body. His hands were in the wrong position. He didn’t extend his body as far as he should.

It was frustrating that he didn’t seem to listen to us. And the more we told him, the more frustrated and angry he became.

We decided to find a different exercise to replace the pushups.

I found a couple of low-weight dumbells (two and a half pounds each). I showed him how to lift them by extending his arms from his shoulders to straight up overhead. He did ten of those.

And then he did ten curls.

It was a minor ordeal, but he had earned his second Trashie of the day.

A couple hours later, he wanted to do more exercises.

I could see where this was going. No, we are not going to work out several times a day, I told him.

He was mad. This is a boy who still does not tolerate waiting very well, and the thought of waiting another day to earn another Trashie was tough.

“That’s too long! It will take forever for me to earn them!”

Eventually, he calmed down and we enjoyed the rest of our Sunday.

And this morning, as I was getting ready to go to work at 6:45, I heard the thumping of a boy doing jumping jacks.


  1. I need to find some incentive myself for working out, shoes and bags would work! :o)
    Hopefully this will last for a while and he can build some endurance while earning his prizes!
    I tell everybody that Andy has "Calvin and Hobbes Syndrome", we have to wake him up everyday for school, but on the weekends he gets up by himself...very early!


    1. Ha, you know you could set up an incentive program for yourself, though you'd have to have the will power not to buy your shoes and bags until you earn them. :)

      Funny how kids are too tired to wake up for school but always seem to have plenty of energy on the weekends!

  2. Just a little bit each day will get him in the groove. It, just as in academics, is through daily training that the good study habit is formed. Of course, the beginning is always the tough part. Once that is established...there is a good chance that it will become a lifetime habit.

    1. He is motivated now but we hope to build good habits now. I don't want to overdo it at first... my wife used to be a fitness instructor so she can design a good program for him.


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