Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Week 2 Incentive: Chuck E. Cheese’s

Our son returned to school this morning after the 3-day holiday weekend. He’s had two good weeks of school to begin the new year, a welcome start after the rocky days we had toward the end of last year.

Last week, I wrote about how we set up an incentive program to encourage our son to have good and safe weeks at school. The program rewards good behavior in general, but puts particular emphasis on safe behavior, meaning when Kai does not try to hurt himself, his peers, or any of the school staff.

His reward the first week was dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Last week, the incentive was a trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s.

It was interesting to see how motivated he was to earn the reward. When he had two really good days to start the week, he was well aware of it. On Tuesday evening, he told my wife that he had seven safe days, which accounted for the five safe days he had to start the year, as well as the two good days to begin the second week.

By Wednesday afternoon, he was already telling us that we would go to Chuck E. Cheese’s on Friday evening. We were happy to know that he was staying aware of his behavior, and that he was so confident that he would be able to maintain his good behavior for the remainder of the week.

He was right to be confident, as he finished his week as strongly as he started.

And so, over the weekend, we went to Chuck E Cheese’s. It had been nearly a year since our last visit. It can get loud, but Kai does not seem especially annoyed by the noise. But, sometimes we wonder if he is having any fun. He says he is too scared to play most of the games. Instead, he insists on either me or Mom playing as he watches, almost hypnotically. His favorite games to watch are car racing games. And so, my wife and I played and played while my son watched and watched. Some of the games made us dizzy and we did not want to play any longer. Kai was then content to watch other kids play.

Before we left, we did get him to play some skee ball. But that was it.

Still, when we were leaving, he said he had a good time. So, Chuck E. Cheese’s turned out to be a good reward – it was highly motivating and he ended up enjoying it.

Still, it is not something we want to do again anytime soon. And so, this week, the reward will be something different – a Pajama Sam computer game that was suggested to us quite some time ago by the director of the speech therapy clinic that Kai attends. We have been looking for a good excuse to give this to him, so we are hoping he has another good week.

Will an educational computer game be as motivating as Chuck E. Cheese’s? We will see.

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