Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Friday 25 June |
Saint of the Day: Bl. John the Spaniard
home iconLifestyle
line break icon

The scientifically proven way to get your kids to work harder

Batman Costume

Shutterstock

Calah Alexander - published on 12/14/17

This is how to make those chores more bearable.

When it’s time to pick up his toys, my 5-year-old Lincoln has an epic meltdown. Every. Single. Time.

“But I’m tired I don’t wanna there’s too much my foot hurts no I won’t waaaaahhhhh!!!” he wails, as he flops around on the floor like a dying fish.

I have tried a zillion ways to get him to pick up without resorting to yelling (which unfortunately always works), but most of them have failed. The one standout was the day Lincoln was pretending to be a puppy, and I asked him if the puppy could help pick up the puppy toys.

He panted and nodded and scampered around the tile on his hands and knees, picking up all the toys (and socks, and shoes) with his mouth. It was hilarious, adorable, and good for his immune system. Most importantly, though, it prevented the meltdown.

In the most awesome study ever, researchers have applied a similar concept to school-aged children. They divided 180 kids into three groups and gave them all a boring computer task, an iPad, and 10 minutes. They told the kids the work was important but if they got bored they could play on the iPad. They also told each group of children to ask themselves a question and repeated that question over a speaker every minute.

The first group asked themselves, “Am I working hard?” The second group asked the same question in the third person, like “Is Hannah working hard?” The third group, however, got to dress up as Batman and ask themselves “Is Batman working hard?”

Unsurprisingly, the Batman group spent the most time actually working. World Economic Forum reported on the study and offered a few theories about why dressing up as Batman helped kids concentrate:

Donning a cape and mask, the kids from the recent study were better at what psychologists call self-distancing. One reason the kids engaged in imaginary play had better focus might be that pretending to be another person allowed the greatest separation from the temptation. A second potential explanation is that the kids in costume identified with the powerful character traits of the superhero and wanted to imitate them. Whatever the cause, the superheroes showed more grit.

These are all probably partially true, but it’s also true that work is boring and pretending is fun. Pretending while working helps kids focus on the fun instead of the boring.

So whether it’s a puppy or Batman, encouraging our kids to make a game out of a chore can be all the impetus they need to get through it without meltdowns from them or yelling from us. What could be better than that?


MAN MEDITATING IN PARK

Read more:
When meditation slips into mind chatter

Tags:
Parenting
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
2
EUCHARIST
Philip Kosloski
Prayers to be said at the elevation of the host at Mass
3
SPANISH FLU
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
4
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
5
PARTY
Theresa Civantos Barber
Celebrate “summer Christmas” with these 5 traditions ...
6
Cecilia Zinicola
The best method for transforming annoyance and frustration
7
JEFF BEZOS' FATHER
John Burger
Parents of Amazon CEO donate $12 million to Catholic school
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.