Michael Docktor, MD (yes, that's his real name), a dad and pediatrician in Boston, created iEarnedThat, a clever iPhone app that helps get kids motivated in a fun way.
Dr. Docktor calls the app "the iPhone generation's stars on the fridge" and says he was inspired to create it by the parents of his patients who frequently ask him how to get their kids to behave.
"Too often parents are using punishment instead of what I believe to be more effective and healthier forms of parenting for development, such as positive reinforcement," he says.
Here's how it works: Kids work their way toward a goal -- using the potty, picking up toys, brushing their teeth -- one puzzle piece at a time. The finished interactive 3D puzzle is actually a picture of the child's reward.
So for example, you tell your toddler that you'll take him to the zoo if he uses the potty six times. Every time he uses the potty, he gets to use the app to add a piece to the puzzle. Once the puzzle is completed, it will be a picture of the zoo.
You choose the puzzle size (it can be 6 pieces or 10 pieces, whatever works for that particular goal) and you can set the reward to whatever you want it to be. Kids get to watch their progress each step of the way.
I haven't tried the app myself, and Dr. Docktor's own little girl was too young to be a guinea pig, but he says he tested it out on lots of kids (ages 2 to 10) of friends and family, who really enjoyed it. "The most amazing thing to me was that the children didn't realize what they were doing would previously have been looked at as 'work' while using this app," he says. "The app incorporates so many aspects of developmental psychology and parenting into an easy-to-use tool that's always in the palm of a parent's hand."
Sounds good to me.
If you want to see the iEarnedThat app in action, check out iEarnedThat's Youtube video overview.
Do you give your kids rewards as encouragement? Would you try this app?