Latter-day Saint families are certainly not lacking for worthy pursuits. In fact, if you sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the good things you have been counseled to do with your family, you are not alone. This beleaguered feeling does not stem from the difficulty of the things we have been counseled to do, nor is it typically the result of a lack of desire to do them. Rather, it often results from confusion about _how_ to do them. These tipes are intended to provide practical, real-life ideas on how to get your family anxiously engaged in good works with greater peace and lasting success. The activities presented here will not solve your problems, but what they will do is provide you with some very practical ways to motivate and encourage good behavior and habits within your family. *Idea #1: By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them* _Suggested Applications_ The Sky is the limit on this activity. It can motivate any number of good habits and behaviors, such as * Manners * Chores * Service * Kindness * Exercise * Scripture study * Church attendance * Obedience * Demonstration of faith * Scouting, Duty to God, and Personal Progress * Success in school * Musical instrument practice _Summary_ 3 Nephi 14:20 states, "Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them." The fruits the Savior refers to are the people's actions. Good actions equal good fruit, and good fruit equals good people. Using Runts, Skittles, fruit-flavored cereal, or some other fruity item, family members can track their "good fruits" (actions) throughout the day, week, or month. You decide how long you want this activity to run. _Preparation_ * Find a clear jar/container for each member of the family. * Alternative: Rather than using a jar for each family member, you could use one large container for the entire family. * Determine a fruity way of measuring. (Runts, Skittles, or fruit-flavored cereal works great!) _A Closer Look_ Read 3 Nephi 14:16-20 with your family and discuss what good fruits are. Instruct the family that you will be tracking their good fruits for a while. This activity can be either a competition in which you use individual jars for each family member or a team effort in which you try to fill up the family jar as quickly as possible. You determine what you think will work best for your family. Family members get to put one fruit piece into the jar every time they complete a predetermined action. For example, Johnny can put one fruit piece in when he finishes practicing the piano for twenty minutes. Susan can put one in each night when she has completed all her homework. Bobby gets to put in five pieces when he completes his board of review to earn the rank of Life in Scouting. In addition, you may decide to take one fruit out of the jar when a predetermined action is not completed or when a family member demonstrates "bad fruits." For example, you may remove a fruit when Julie and her older sister continue to argue even after you have asked them to stop. A fruit can also be removed because the family failed to have family scripture study one night, etc. The fun and motivation of this activity can be found in the task of filling up the jars, or you might choose to offer some sort of reward to the person who fills their jar up the quickest or reward the entire family when the family jar is completely full. The reward can be something as simple as eating fruit-flavored cereal for dinner that night, eating all the Runts or Skittles in the jar while watching a movie together, or making fruit smoothies together. *Idea #2: Family Football* _Suggested Application_ This is a great way to encourage your football fanatic to be a fan of * Studying the scriptures * Attending church meetings * Doing homework * Doing household chores * Practicing musical instruments * Exercising _Summary_ Get more yardage (pun intended) from your children (and likely your husband!) by moving a football marker down the field each time a predetermined behavior is performed satisfactorily. Reward them each time they score a touchdown, when they reach a predetermined score, or after the determined time has expired. _Preparation_ * Make a poster-sized football field (or use the smaller version provided) * Determine whether you will play with several teams (see competitive version below) or as one team (see cooperative version below) and prepare the appropriate number of footballs to use as the game pieces. * Determine what behaviors will gain yardage, and assign how many yards each behavior is worth (e.g., twenty minutes of piano practice equals five yards). * Determine what the reward will be for success in the activity. _A Closer Look_ You will need to decide whether this activity will work best by having family members compete against one another or by having them cooperate by working together as a team. This will largely depend on what behaviors you choose to focus on. Examples of both styles of Family Football are provided below. _Competitive Family Football_ Divide your family unto two teams, or make each person in your family an individual team (you can play with as many teams as you want in this game). All teams will always be on offense. There is no defense in this game. Each team will start with the ball on the twenty-yard line and you much go eighty yards to score a touchdown. Teams will move the ball by accomplishing the behaviors you are targeting. Here are a few suggestions to get your mind going: * Twenty minutes of piano practice = five yards * Reading one chapter from the scriptures = five yards * Completing all chores = five yards * An "A" on a report card = ten yards * Finishing homework by 5:00 p.m. = five yards It's just fine to assign lower and higher yardage amounts, but we recommend keeping them to increments of five for ease in moving the ball down the field. For example, if you were to begin on the twenty-yard line and move ten yards, you would place the ball right on the thirty-yard line. A ball placed between the thirty-yard line and the twenty-yard line means you are on the twenty-five yard line. When you reach the goal line, you score a touchdown, then go back to the twenty-yard line and do it again! You may want to add a little bit of excitement to the game by penalizing a team when predetermined negative behaviors take place. Here are a few ideas to get you started: * Unsportsmanlike conduct (arguing, lying, etc.) = lose five yards * Delay of game (coming home late, not getting something done in a timely manner, etc.) = lose five yards * Illegal procedure (not doing a chore well enough) = lose five yards * Off sides, clipping, false start, pass interference, illegal block, etc. = let the football fans in your family use their creativity to determine what each of these penalties might be, and how many yards they are worth. Turnovers are another exciting aspect of family football. There is nothing worse than getting close to the goal line and then throwing an interception or fumbling the ball. When you really need something done right, try saying something like, "I'm setting the buzzer for fifteen minutes. If you are not done cleaning your room before the buzzer goes off, you will fumble the ball and have to go all the way back to the twenty-yard line." This is especially effective if a team is about to score. If you have decided to play Family Football for a specified period of time rather than to a certain score, it is possible that there will be a tie score at the end of that time period. This is easily resolved by sending the tied teams into overtime. Overtime can work any way you want it to. For example, you could see which team can pick up the most toys in two minutes or give each team a quiz from family scripture study. Whoever wins the overtime challenge, wins the game! _Cooperative Family Football_ In this version of Family Football, you need only one football because everyone is on the same team trying to move the ball down the field and score a touchdown. The game will be played in almost the same way as in the competitive version above, so read those instructions before proceeding. The only difference is that in this version, everyone is required to properly perform a task in order for the team to get points. For example, if everyone but little Johnny gets his chores done, no yards are gained until Johnny does his part. This is a great way to really motivate teamwork and get family members to take an interest in one another's performance. *Idea #3: Easter Egg Hunt* _Suggested Application_ Stop hunting for ways to ease the burden of continually motivating your family to * Read scriptures * Attend and be reverent in church * Attend the temple * Give service * Exercise * Practice musical instrument * Do home and visiting teaching * Complete chores * Fulfill Duty to God, Personal Progress, Scouting, and Faith in God requirements _Summary_ We'll describe two options of how to implement this activity. The first option can be used to encourage good behavior prior to Easter and will determine how much candy will be available for hunting on Easter morning. The second option can be used any time of the year and give children an opportunity to pick and crack an egg each time they behave appropriately or complete a task. _Preparation_ * Option One: Find a bucket in which to store candy (and lots of it!) until Easter. * Option Two: Purchase plastic eggs to contain messages or prizes of you choosing. * Determine what behaviors you will target. _A Closer Look_ Both options in this activity allow for great flexibility. You can choose to focus on one behavior, such as scripture study, or a whole bunch of behaviors at once. One of the nice things about this activity is that since many people already give their children candy on Easter, these activities will likely not require any additional expense but will pay big dividends when it comes to family cooperation and positive behavior. _Option One_ If you choose this option, you will be determining how much candy your family will have available to hunt for on Easter. It is as simple as giving your children a piece of candy to put in a bucket each time they meet a requirement. That requirement could be cleaning up a bedroom, exercising for twenty minutes, getting along with a sibling, sitting still in sacrament meeting, or any number of positive behaviors. Parents and youth can get involved too by attending the temple or doing their home and visiting teaching. As your family watches the bucket fill up, they will become more motivated to do the right things because they know that on Easter morning the candy in the bucket will be theirs--once they find all the eggs you've hidden, of course. _Option Two_ This option does not require you to change any Easter traditions you may already have, because it can be done at any time of the year rather than just at Easter time. Every Easter our kids will ask for the empty plastic Easter eggs so that they can put some of their candy back into them, re-hide them, and experience the fun of the Easter egg hunt over and over again. You can capitalize on this enthusiasm around Easter--or anytime throughout the year, really--by having a week-long (or longer) Easter-egg-hunt eggs-travaganza! You can put candy in the eggs if you desire, but we like to just put little messages about the Savior in the eggs to remind our children of what Easter is really all about. When a family member completes a required task, he or she earns the opportunity to search for a hidden egg (if you have chosen to hide the eggs) or to draw an egg out of the basket. When the individual opens up his or her chosen egg, he or she will find a slip of paper something like the example below: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son." You've earned 2 points for finding this egg! Earn 2 more points by finding what verse of scripture is being quoted above and showing Mom or Dad. Keep track of how many eggs each child gathers as well as how many points are earned by each child to award the top point earner and the top egg gatherer. We are confident that your family will find this activity truly egg-citing! (Sorry, but the egg puns were just too good to pass up.) _Excerpt from_ Do What is Right: 52 Fun Motivators for LDS Families, _by Douglas J. and Laurie H. Wilcox, Covenant_ Click here to purchase Do What is Right, or to learn more about the book.
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