Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The subtle art of rewarding and praising

Why rewards lose their sparkle?

Do our rewards and praise are ruining our kids future?

Do you think that perhaps is time to resist rewards?

Our society is full of rewards. We go to Woollies and we get rewarded for every 30$ we spend, our kids go to the dentist they get a little toy. At school kids get a Dojo points for doing "5 L" daily.

Is this good for our kids?

It is not.

Our kids started to receive rewards when they were very young. When they started to use the potty. When they started pooing in the potty, we gave them a lolly. That is because the conventional system states that we reward the behaviour we want to see again.


When we use rewards, what is the message that we send to our kids?
I have no confidence at all that you will do your assignment (do it in the potty) unless I bribe you to do that.

From the start we are sending a confusing message.

The message that they receive is:
“Why would I ever do that without a treat, reward, or bribe?
That must an important thing. Getting good grades must be important to my parents that they are willing to pay me.”

We don’t want to send this message, but we send it anyway.

We rear the attitude:

“What’s in it for me? If I will do that. What do I get?”

If you start that when they are young, then one day you will have a teenager that you ask to take the bins out and he will say:

"What am I getting for it?"

No self-respecting teenager will ever take the bins out against a lolly. Does it seem that we start with lollies and end up buying Mac computers, latest Xbox console, iPhone, cars, house deposit etc?

That is not what we want to encourage.

There is massive amount of research on the reward matter and it shows repeatedly that rewards undermine what we are trying to accomplish with our kids.

If we reward children for reading, they will become less interested in reading. Because they are not reading for themselves, for the love of the book, they are reading to get the present.
What is the message line we send when we say “you should be eating your vegies” line?
The message is: "Mum cares a lot about what I eat and how I eat. This is a major power opportunity power for me. They care so much they are willing to give me some desert. "
When you connect vegies to desert with conditioning you have a power struggle.

Conclusion is:

“The more you use external rewards the more it diminishes internal motivation.”

Kids who are raised on rewards are dependent on external motivators.


This doesn’t sound like a big deal when you hand out Freddo Frogs for not pooing in his pants.

I would like you to fast forward 10-20 years and ask yourself.

How do you want your young adult to be motivated?
How do you want him to make decisions?
For the money?
Based on peer group thing?
Boyfriend or girlfriend?
Paying for grades?

Bad or good?

Really bad idea…

We want to make sure we foster independence....
We raise independent adults not high maintenance employees or spouses....

Stay put for more facts about rewards, praise and bribes.... and how to stop it.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Things we could do when we are alone

When you are sad is good to try to not think of anything at all.

You could try:

-walk up to a hill and check out the view. Count the shades of green you could see

-hug a friend

-clap your hands in a different rooms and listen to the different sound in each room

-feel an ice cube melting

-stand in the sun and try to feel where the heat touches your skin

-rub cream on your hands and feel it 

-drink your favourite beverage and notice it's smell, steam, temperature and taste

-dive in the pool and sense the temperature

-eat a meal without watching tv, reading, checking your phone. Focus on taste and textures.

-hold a rock and notice texture, weight, colour

-laugh for a minute

-doodle something on a piece of paper without thinking.

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Thursday, February 4, 2021

Do we value our values?


are very important because all people are trying to teach you their values. All of them are mum and dad, friends, school, government, and society in general is trying to direct you towards what they understand as their values.

If you have no idea what are your values are than you will be convinced to borrow other people values. That hurts greatly.


I am going to give you a test for you to do in your own time while you are alone to figure it out.

Write it down because you will need it:

1.      It doesn’t matter much

2.      It’s kind of important to me

3.      It’s important to me

4.      It is very important to me

5.      It is vital to me

These values can change throughout your life and it is ok if you change your mind later on. It is important what you think is meaningful now.

For example, when I was single it was easy to be a good friend but it wasn’t that easy to be a good girlfriend.

So now put your preferred number on the lines bellow.

Being a good friend__________

Being a good boyfriend/girlfriend_________

Being a good son/daughter___________

Being a good brother/sister___________

Being a good student__________

Being a good employee___________

Being good to myself__________

Being active in my hobbies___________

Being creative________

Being productive___________

Being a good community member___________

Being a good member of humankind____________

Being good with the Earth (the environment, animal rights, etc.) _________

Being in contact with my spirituality (whatever you want to call it) ___________

Being …. (insert your ideas) _________


Do your actions show that this is something you value?

Find another colour pen and give it a second rating with this new scale bellow.

1. Totally off track with this value

2. A bit off track

3. Mostly on track

4. On track

5. There could be a photo of me in dictionary next to this value


How did you feel when you gave yourself a different rating?


Were you proud of yourself or dwelling on a bit of a shitty moment? Are you lying on the values or underneath them?


What’s your plan on getting on with the things that matter the most to you? You will say I tricked you. If you are alone in your room then nobody knows it.


If we sit at the bus station and we see a fellow saying that we should all go North because North is the way to go to reach the top. What do we do?

After n year we go pass the same bus stop and see that same fellow saying that we should go North to be achieved and successful. It is the way to happiness.

After two years the guy is still there saying the same stuff. You stop and ask him about it and recommends the perfect apps and books about North. Also, you ask him about best things he’s seen when he went North but he replies: “I have never been North. Too hard to get up there. The road is too bad, and I am waiting for the government to fix the road so I can have an easy trip. Then he says proudly: “BUT, I have never gone South.”


Do you take this fella seriously? If it’s worth it, I, personally would travel over a bad road and jump through couple fiery hoops to get to that promise land. Right?

Like someone wise said:

Values are like compass directions. They’re meaningless unless you move.


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Today we've learned via "Stuff that sucks"  by Ben Sedley



Tuesday, January 19, 2021

How to be liked by your teenager?




 You ask yourself:

- Why my teenager is out of control?

- How can you remove him/her out of the house?

- How can I punish them?

- What consequences can you apply?

- How can you manage his behaviour?

- Where can I send my out of control teenager?


We get banned by our children’s circle of trust and we just don’t know what to do.

Some of the words we say to our teenagers when they are not doing what they "should" do are:


“Do I have to tell you one more time”

“How many times do I have to tell you?”

“Do I really need to yell at you to get it done?”

“Didn’t you say you will do it when you pass the game level. Why is not done?”

“I though you are going to take the bins out.”

 “Are you done yet?”

“I had enough of your dramas and laziness.”

“it’s about time you get your … together”

“It must feel really good sitting on your ass all day”

“What do you think you are doing?”

“Now, why would you do such a thing?”

“There is no point explaining it to you. You will not get it anyway.”

“If you don’t do this, I will do … instead”

“I would do that if I were you.”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you”

“What made you think that… would work”

“Who told you that?” (with negative intonation, tone, and body language)

“You should know that by now”

“Sorry!” (with negative intonation, tone, and body language)

“Isn’t it obvious yet?”


Our children have difficulties following the society rules you have taught them so thoroughly and with such success until now. The answer is they are scared, terrified, tired, frustrated and all the negative feelings you can think of. Nowadays it is harder to be a teenager than has ever been. They have school grades, friends, you, soccer practice, swimming lessons to worry about and all you care about is emptying the dishwasher or clean his “filthy” room.

Our job description is to prepare them to be happy, healthy, functioning adults. Our job is to have them from completely dependent to fully independent.

In this blog I will not tell you which governmental institution will lock him away and tame him. I am asking you to put yourself in his place when you are told all those lines.

That’s when you change your mind frame and try 5 of my favourite loving attitudes:

  1. -        Have special time with your teenager, uninterrupted, 10 min in the morning, 10 min before bed, put it in the calendar and just show up. If he doesn’t want it just show up and do what he does. Grab a book and read with her, grab the other game console, and play his game. In these moments you give him your undivided attention (without phone, watch beeping, other people interrupting). Every member of the family receives the same treatment, no more than 10 min. When they are asking when their special time is you are set! We do that with our stepchildren. We can’t control what happens at his mum’s house so don’t bother doing anything about that, just do your own thing.
  2. -        Calm voice. Use a neutral voice. Put on your most soothing music on before you start talking with him.
  3. -        Withdraw from conflict without a sigh, “I give up” body movement or just do the unexpected (hug him, jump in the pool fully dressed, sing “La donna e mobile”)
  4. -        Consequences have to be natural and logical. The consequences must be Related, Repeated, Respectful, Reasonable, Revealed in advance. 
  5. -        Invite cooperation: “Buddy/Sweetheart (make eye contact and act humble) I have to cook dinner, fill the form for Centrelink, book the doctor, organise grandma’s transport to doctor and I can’t seem to finish all of these by 6pm. I would appreciate if you could help me with…….”


We ignore his eye roll, her body language, we just act humble say that calmly and leave after we finish. We are not coming back asking again, saying one of those lines from above. If he doesn’t do it, we keep our dignity and love for her/him.


We act the same tomorrow and the day after tomorrow! It may take 1 month or 1 year. If you have struggled for 6 months than it can take you a year to get back in her good books.

 Simona Graham

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Today we've learned via "Me, me, me epidemic"  by Amy McCready














Thursday, December 17, 2020

Why are teenagers so bored all the time?


Why are teenagers so bored all the time?

Growing up in the 70 and 80 we weren’t bored because we were always doing stuff.  

Sometimes the "I am really bored" means: 

"I want you to spend time with me." 

"I want you."

"I don’t want to do that job you want me to do."

"I don’t want to load the dishwasher. I don’t want to take the bin out. That is boring. I am bored. I don’t want to do that. Shut up."


It is a power play. Our teenagers can get what they want, essentially "more technology time" by playing the "I am bored" game. 

Is important not to give in to this "I am bored" dance. We have to pacify our kids because they never experience being bored. 

They never learn to self calm down. They never learn to take care of their own boredom. 

It is not parents job to keep kids from being bored. This is extremely important to know. We think we have to have the activities all the time. There are 85000 pin interest boards on how to keep your kids entertained over the summer.  It is silly!

How can we stop boredom?

I want to encourage you to actually to embrace boredom. Boredom is an awesome thing. It stimulates creativity. Either you are building a fort out of cardboard boxes or creating something or reading a book, it stimulates creativity. Boredom is the mother of invention. We don’t want to rob our kids of the opportunity, the blessing of being bored. Boredom is also essential for empowerment.  

Boredom is essential because it minimizes entitlement. It is such a huge driver in the whole issue of entitlement. Every time your kids are bored and we are handing in a solution to their boredom, they are going to feel entitled to not be bored. So I am really going to encourage you to embrace boredom. It is good.

You may say "I feel guilty that I am not around as much." So, when you are around and available that’s when you spend your time with them. But allowing them to have technology instead of creating, discovering, doing all the stuff that are essential for their social and emotional development, we are doing them a disservice.

Let’s talk about solutions for boredom.


- Very very important!!! spend one on one uninterrupted time with your teenager, 15 min/morning, tag it(give it a name "Billy's special time"), put it in the calendar and turn that into a family religion. That must happen in the evening too, absolutely unconditional(even if they swore at you), even if they don't want you there(just sit next to them and learn about whatever they are doing), with your step child, without tv/phone/iPad/radio(interruption)

- don’t respond to boredom. When you respond to it and give them the list of things that they could do, you give them tremendous attention and power to the behaviour which creates a reward for that behaviour. It is extremely reinforcing and is going to happen again. If you feel you need to say something just say "Mhmmm, that sucks."

Do not feel you need to solve the problem for them? When they realise you are not going to find solutions for them, they are going to figure it out for themselves how to not be bored. But that will not happen over night.

- take the weight of your back and put it on your kids back and say: "Mhmm. What can you do to feel less bored? For all those times when you anticipate let’s think ahead. What can you do to not be bored at the doctors office. Taking my device is not an option."  

You can give them a few starter ideas. You can have some supplies out, you can have the supporting equipment. Be respectful and don't turn it into a guilt trip. But it is still up to them to figure it out what to do. After couple of days you are not going to respond to their complaints about being bored anymore. 

After that you are going to defer to the boredom jar. The boredom jar could have bits of paper that have jobs on them. Jobs that they could do around the house. Let's call them family contributions instead of jobs because it is much more empowering(they feel they contribute, they are preparing to be an independent adult). Kids as old as 3 years old could do family contributions. As long as we keep responding and offering ideas and engaging in conversations or lectures about it, as long as you keep handing the devices to solve their boredom problem, you are perpetuating it. When we solve their bored problem we are undermining their ability to be creative to think outside the box or to do things other than technology.

How does boredom encourages entitlement? If we are constantly fixing the boredom for them our teenagers, kids and partner will not learn to self entertain.

I hope this will be your new motto to move forward this school holiday.

Simona Graham


What you should do next:

  1. Subscribe to my blog page for tips to help your teenagers
  2. Like and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates and quick news.
  3. Log in into our website community for updates.

Today we've learned via "Me, me, me epidemic"  by Amy McCready

The subtle art of rewarding and praising

Why rewards lose their sparkle? Do our rewards and praise are ruining our kids future? Do you think that perhaps is time to resist rewards? ...