6 Ways to Motivate Your Child For Good
It can be a challenge to motivate children to do hard tasks whether it be schoolwork or chores. Too often, these interactions turn into power struggles or flat-out bribery. Receiving the right motivation and attention will transform your child’s attitude towards difficult tasks. As a parent, you can help your child develop intrinsic motivation that will allow them to become driven and resilient adults.
If your child is having issues at school or around the house, check out these tips for some ways to motivate your child without yelling, bribery or meltdowns.
1. Focus On Mastery
It’s completely understandable that parents want their children to succeed in school, including getting good grades. However, it’s important to understand that grades are a poor reflection of actual knowledge. Children and students quickly get in the habit of learning something just until the test, then forget it once the test is over. This is counter-productive for learning and curiosity and frequently results in poor motivation.
As a parent, you can combat this by focusing on mastery and learning instead of grades. Ask about something they learned that interested them that day instead of asking what score they got on their spelling test. Engaging your children in the actual material of the lesson, appealing to their innate curiosity about the world, develops a lasting, internal motivation that lasts.
2. Always Encourage
What comes naturally to adults takes time to develop. In other words, rather than being nit-picky about how smooth the bedsheets are, take time to thank and encourage the child for going as far as making the bed.
By focusing on encouragement, your child develops initiative when it comes to work that needs to be done. Eventually, sloppiness will sort itself out as your child gets older and learns.
3. Have Clear Expectations
Let’s be honest: kids today have more on their plate than previous generations. From ridiculous amounts of standardized testing to social media to helicopter parenting- children often feel as though a million things are being thrown at them at once. Even children burn out.
To help your children remain focused and motivated, be clear in your expectations for them. Don’t say you’ll be proud of them for trying so hard in school but wrinkle your nose at a B. Nothing frustrates a child more than constantly moving goal-posts. Instead, be consistent with your expectations so your child knows what to do.
4. Competition Without Comparison
Competition can be an extremely motivating force. Encourage these feelings in a healthy way to make children feel pride in their accomplishments by rewarding success and giving feedback.
Just a note: try to avoid competition and comparison between siblings or other family members. Family is a place where each child is accepted just as they are, so never compare one’s strength with another’s weakness. Competition can create motivation- just don’t go too far.
5. Create The Right Environment
In terms of schoolwork, sometimes the materials in the classroom just aren’t right for your child. Everyone has a different learning style, but in a classroom it’s downright impossible for the teacher to cater to each student.
Consider tutoring and specialized social studies textbooks that focus on making content engaging to children who struggle in those areas. Focusing on making learning accessible and fun reduces any resentment or frustration a child feels that might cause them to misbehave.
6. Communication Is Key
When I was in middle school, report card day was a day of panic. I remember classmates passing around a bottle of white-out, frantically trying to forge grades to avoid punishment for getting a B. Unfortunately, that attitude is all-too common today.
For parents, that type of underhanded behavior hurts but try considering it as a symptom of a larger problem. You need to create trust and kindness towards your child. To keep your child motivated, try to reframe failure as a way of learning rather than a harsh punishment. When a child feels safe coming to you when they’re having issues, you encourage a resilient attitude towards failure and a lasting motivation.