Warning: I’m about to get vulnerable as a parent. Last Saturday, I paid my 7th grade son to rest. I’m not recommending this technique to other parents, but I thought I would share the outcome.
The boy had been sick with a cold for three days, but refused to stay home from school. As kids get older, it gets harder to make up missed work in difficult classes, especially with added obligations in basketball and band.
So, when I picked him up at 4PM on a Friday, I offered him $7 if he would rest the next 24 hours. He could watch movies and email, but no playing with friends, no Wii, no Ripstick. For the first evening, he enjoyed himself, as any 12-year-old would. By the next morning he was bored. By lunchtime, he was pacing. At a quarter to 4PM, he was bouncing a basketball inside the house. I took it away, and he camped in front of the microwave, to watch the clock tick down to freedom.
Ding! Ding! Ding! He made it to the appointed hour and received the precious money. After about 30 minutes of shooting hoop in the driveway, he came back inside. Soon he was on the computer, shopping for Christmas gifts on ebay. Within an hour, I had my $7 back, plus a promise to work hard the next day to earn $9 more.
The following day, the boy worked his tail off. He cleaned the house, then raked the yard, earning more than enough to cover his PayPal expenses.
A day of rest yielded a day of work.