This month’s classroom social development lessons will focus on building a habit of Putting First Things First: Work First, Then Play. If we think for a minute or two, we surely can find examples of this idea in our adult lives:
“After I finish writing these thank you notes, I’ll have a cup of my favorite hot tea.”
“Before I sit on the couch to watch a TV show, I’d better get through today’s emails.”
“When I’ve saved enough money, I’ll take a vacation!”
In the field of psychology, this is called the Premack Principle. It states that rewards can be used to encourage us to complete the things we aren’t as excited about. In addition to the practical outcome that something important will be done, there are some neat side effects from doing the hard thing first, aren’t there? For example, energy isn’t being wasted worrying about the work. Furthermore, the confidence that comes with developing this self-discipline will help in all areas of life.
This month, talk with your child about what work needs to be done before play in order to make progress toward goals, both big and small. Illustrating with examples from your own life is sure to be an effective model, and may even provide some useful reinforcement for our own resolutions!
With warm regards,
Dr. Merritt F. Waters