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A lump of sugar please Or bitter addiction

kidsparentschild2 years3 yearskidFeuilletonchildrenLenka Míkovcová4 years5 yearsmotivationentertainmentsugaraddiction

I’m sure you know what I mean. You complete an Art activity with your kids and the teacher is giving out candy as a reward for working hard. At first sight this isn’t anything abnormal or unusual. But in this case, the piece of candy definitely acts against itself. Not only does it make their blood sugar rise and reduces their appetite before lunch, it primarily undermines their initial motivation to create.

And if your kid was at first interested in Art, you can kiss it goodbye now. His interest won’t increase and you’ll be lucky if it stays the same. The first good feeling from being creative will soon be overrun by the sweet taste of the candy and the next piece candy will be more interesting than the Art itself. His motivation will gradually decrease. The author of the book Respect and Be Respected has a good passage about this: “You give a subliminal message using candy. The act itself doesn’t have a great effect, though for some reason I need you to accomplish it and so I’m giving you a bribe in the form of a reward.”

The kid will soon realize that you’re buying him and will immediately ask the question, what do I get in return? His behaviour will be more based on the reward than the activity itself and all the fun or self-satisfaction will disappear.

So what do we do? Create together and not only in Art class. Describe what you’re doing, what you’re feeling, how you like the activity, what your expectations are, what the final result will be, etc. Help your child voice his opinion and show his real feelings toward the activity at hand. It’s possible that you will discover that finger colours are more fun if they are applied to the entire body than just to paper. That the most fun thing while making a salad is eating the olives off of it and that his dream is to wallow around in mud or in oil bath. But ultimately, before all the wallowing, he’ll “cut” out a whale or dinosaur with one swipe of scissors–almost life-size.


*Respect and Be Respected, Pavel Kopřiva, Jana Nováčková, Dobromila Nevolová, Taťjana Kopřivová, Pavel Kopřiva - Spirála, 2008

Author: Lenka Míkovcová

Translation: Marek Hubbell

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