Thanks for writing to www.education.com with your parenting question. Motivating your son to read rather than watching television could be as simple as establishing a goal and keeping track of that goal daily. Marking a calendar page that has been posted on the refridgerator with the amount of minutes he reads per day would be a simple reminder of the plan. If your son reads an average of 20 minutes per day for the month he can earn a mutually agreed upon privilege. The privilege need not be anything expensive. Anything that inspires your son would work. Consider providing your son the chance to pick an outing such as a trip to a climbing wall at a nearby park or the chance to have a friend stay overnight for a sleepover.
If your son is in need of more frequent reward, you may want to decrease the number of days in order to earn a privilege. For instance you could have him choose the snack he would like after three days of reading in a row or can even reduce the reward to a one to one ratio. Allowing him to stay up for an 20 minutes if he reads for 20 minutes might be a reasonable trade off.
Television is a privilege and should be treated as such. Make privileges in your home contingent on completing the tasks that are responsibilities like chores, homework and anything else that builds character (such as volunteering to help family or community).
For more information on parenting strategies including additional suggestions on how to set limits and increase motivation please visit www.parenting.org or call the Boys Town National Hotline at 1-800-448-3000.