Do you know how to motivate your child? As parents, we want to give our children the best there is. It may be as small and insignificant as gifts, or as crucial as a variety of their future career possibilities. In any case, it’s extremely important to allow your child to live their own life while empowering them to make the right choices. A big part of knowing how to motivate a child is to let them be… themselves.
1. Empower Your Child
If you want to motivate your child, empower your child! The question is, though, how can you empower them and ensure that they are ready to make sensible choices? To start with, give your child an option to choose: if your child is of a young age, let them make simple decisions such as what to wear today, or which fruit they want to eat; if your child is older, let them make more complicated judgments like which hobby to take upon or what to do over the weekend. The sooner you start giving your child the freedom of choice, the more likely they will be able to make informed decisions in the future.
a. Teach Them The Power Of Negotiation
In the meantime, negotiations should also become a recurring activity in motivating your child. We suggest letting your child create his or her own experiences. Don’t do everything for your children; instead, offer them suggestions and solutions to their problems. Empower your child by teaching them the value of negotiating in order to get what they want. For example, let’s say you want your offspring to do their chores. He or she wants to spend time with their friends, instead. Teach your child how offering to do his or her chores and something extra could mean they have an extra hour to spend with their friends later on.
Our point here is that even though you could do things for your loved ones, it’s better to let them learn and grow as they go along. Not only does this help your child experience a sense of higher self-confidence and accomplishment, but it also prepares them for today’s world: unexpected things happen and they have to stand their ground to get what they desire.
2. Create A Reward System
We know, we know… It is not going to be as easy as that, right? Children learn how to manipulate and get what they want from the day they are born. Every time a baby cries, his or her mother runs to the crib to rock it until the little one falls asleep. Over time, the baby learns that crying means getting what they want a lot faster! It’s a basic example, but at the end of the day, all children want rewards for their efforts, or just for being there! You have to be smart and use it to your own advantage in motivating a child.
a. Positive Reinforcement (Stickers)
Positive reinforcement is a great way to motivate your child. A little bit of psychology here: positive reinforcement means rewarding someone for doing what was asked. If you ask your child to finish their homework before dinner and they do so, you giving them praise would be considered as positive reinforcement. From our own experience, stickers work wonders for younger children to motivate them! They get excited every time you pull out your sticker sheet and the sheer volume of the stickers they could get is a wonder and a deep desire to your kids.
b. Positive Reinforcement (Time)
Another powerful way to motivate a child is your time. It may sound obvious but your child cannot wait to spend quality time with you; he or she is excited about showing you their new toys or something they’ve learned at school. 9 out of 10 times, you will think you don’t have time to play silly games, especially if there is that project at work that you have to work on or that dinner that you have to prepare. However, giving your child an assignment or a task you want to have done and then rewarding him or her with your time is the greatest appreciation you could give.
Of course, we would all love to tell others and ourselves how we always find time for our kids, but the truth is, real-life gets in the way and we don’t always get to spend enough time with our family members. Hence, we have to create those opportunities.
c. Punishment and Why NOT DO It
A few words of caution, negative reinforcement and punishment used to be extremely popular in the past few decades; however, they are no longer considered effective ways to motivate a child. In fact, it can be detrimental to your relationship. What do we mean by punishment? In psychology, it is defined as taking something away when the child doesn’t behave in your desired way. Some parents still insist on taking away computer privileges after the child misbehaves. This sort of reaction may temporarily give you control over your child but it will not last and it will be hard to regain your child’s trust in the future.
3. Start To Listen To Your Child
And this is where it gets a little complicated. As adults, we rationalize our decisions and make choices based on some sort of evidence, past experiences and so on. Children, on the other hand, are a lot more intuitive. Their world is easy and simple; all you have to do is to actually listen to them. They won’t play mind games or try to trick you. Actually, the majority of children can effortlessly tell us what they want and why. Us, not listening and overthinking their answers, is usually the problem. Our suggestion on how to motivate a child is to arrange a time when your focus is solely on your little one.
a. Have Meaningful Conversations
How do you do that? Well, a good start is to put ourselves in their shoes. Make your questions simple and straightforward. Here are some examples:
- How was your day today? Tell me about your day at school/kindergarten etc.
- Who is your best friend right now? How do you feel about him or her?
- What would you like to do with us (the parents) this weekend?
- Is there anything that’s bothering you right now? Is there anything I can help you with?
- If you could talk to anyone in the world right now, who would that be? What would you ask? (This is an example of an indirect question if your child has trouble opening up to you!)
b. Take Their Concerns Seriously
Remember, your child is vulnerable. They don’t have the confidence to conquer the world yet; they are still learning how to act as a part of society and how to fit in. Be careful reacting to any of their answers in a way that can discourage your child and stop him or her from talking to you in the future. However silly their current joy or issue may seem to you, take it seriously and give them serious advice. It may take a little time for you to adjust to the level of their ‘childish’ thinking but you will be rewarded with your child’s trust and become their hero.
c. Discover Their Passions
One of the most effective ways to motivate a child is to let them be carefree. One day, your children may want to be astronauts, another day, – artists. Let them dream and try out different things while they are still young. Sign them up for basketball practice, better yet, go with your child and play it together! The sky’s the limit; you may understand the concept of possible and impossible, but your child doesn’t have to. Not yet, anyway!
4. Teach Your Child About The Value Of Money
A little while ago we talked about stickers and how useful they can be in motivating your child. Let’s take it a step further and talk about the value of money. Today’s society is built on money; it may be the food we buy at the grocery shop or the salary we receive at the end of the month. Either way, your child should learn how to manage their money as early as possible. You can start with something as simple as attaching a monetary value to the stickers you’ve given your child. A sticker could mean a dollar or x amount of stickers = x amount of dollars. The actual value may not be as important as your child learning how to earn and spend money.
Actually, there is an amazing book by R. Kiyosaki called ‘Rich Kid, Smart Kid’ that is specifically written for parents who want to teach their children about financial education that they cannot learn at school.
5. Success Story
A powerful real-life story.
It was a Saturday morning. A friend of ours, let’s call him Tom, wanted to get his child to practice some math after breakfast. His little one had different ideas. The boy wasn’t at all interested in solving math puzzles when his toys were so inviting and irresistible! Tom decided to use this motivational technique he read about and invited his boy to talk. He told his son that they are going to spend half an hour on math and then they can go outside and play football.
Tom explained to his son that for the next 30 minutes, he wants the boy to solve all the math problems in his workbook. The father went through each of the 20 questions and made sure his son knew what was expected of him. He also emphasized that if the boy had any questions, Tom would be there to answer them. What’s more, the father insisted the boy would explain his actions out loud while he was solving those equations. That was done with a purpose.
Once the boy started working on his assignment, Tom heard his son working through each of the equations. Every once in a while the silence became apparent and then Tom would ask his son to pay attention and go back to studying. Incredibly, the boy finished the tasks in a lot shorter period of time than 30 minutes, because his attention was consistently brought back to the task on hand.
Do you know what happened here? A suggestion was met with some resistance, yet negotiation skills and the enticing reward were the perfect stimuli to reach an agreement and desired result. There was no need to argue, shout or act out for either the parent or the child. Both sides were satisfied and happy, especially after their rewarding football practice!
6. What Is Your Relationship With Your Child?
The tips above are extremely effective in motivating your child, however, you also have to consider your particular situation. First of all, how do you feel about your relationship with your child? Would you describe it as friendly, authoritative, lenient, or relaxed? Do you think your child trusts you? Is your child talkative? Does he or she share the details of their lives with you? When was the last time you spent some quality time with your child? Most of us take our relationships with loved ones for granted. It’s easy to forget that we need to build and strengthen our relationships at home even more than others because it is a lot easier to trigger someone you live with than someone you spend some time with.
7. Should You Seek Help?
Another thing to think about is why you think your child is not motivated. Is his or her lack of motivation based on laziness or perhaps disinterest; or is it an actual problem that should be solved with the outside help. If you are not sure, it’s important to research similar situations and even talk to some professionals before you make any decisions or actions towards your child’s behavior.
8. What are your expectations?
Kind of related to the last point, it’s important to consider your expectations. Do you have realistic expectations for your child or do you want to live their lives for them? Do you allow your children to be themselves or are you pushing them towards your own past dreams?
a. What Are Your Child’s Expectations
Most importantly, it’s not about you, it’s about YOUR CHILD. He or she has dreams and aspirations that may differ from yours, yet are incredible and inspiring. Maybe your son or daughter just hasn’t found a way to express them and you could help them find their way towards greatness.
b. Lead By Example
Don’t expect your child to be proactive and all fired up if you are sluggish and lazy. Show your child that the most important thing is to start doing something that inspires and excites them. You might have always wanted to run a marathon but never found time… There is your chance to start practicing and showing your child that even seemingly hard tasks can be tackled one by one until you reach your goals. If you have a disagreement, don’t wait until your child apologizes even if it was his or her fault. Show them the power of initiative and communication. Show them that being wrong is OK, too.
c. The Importance of Structure, Repetition, and Consistency
What’s more, you have to ensure that your offspring has plenty of time to repeat what they have learned. By now, you probably have figured out which time of the day is your most productive, but your child is not you! You have to help and motivate him or her and create a structure in his or her life. We would advise you to have a routine that works for the whole family, agree on wake up, breakfast, and time to leave as well as homework, dinner and relaxation time. It’s important to stay consistent and teach your child the importance of habits. Consistency is not only great for motivating a child but also helping him/her build success habits before becoming adults.
9. How To Achieve Long-term Changes In Your Child’s Behavior
To sum up a little bit, everything in this article is about how to understand and motivate a child. However, it’s crucial to remember that short-term motivation is a lot easier to achieve than long-term. So how to ensure long-term success? …
a. Give Choices
… By giving your children choices. As a parent, it’s your job to make sure your child is safe and happy. It’s also your job to help him or her become their best selves. Not someone who you wanted to be, but someone who they want to become. The world is a competitive place and each of us has a unique set of talents and abilities that the world needs. Make sure your son or daughter knows how special they are and how they are in charge of their fate.
b. Teach Them How To Enjoy The Journey
Mistakes are to be expected and even celebrated! Nobody can live a life worth living if they haven’t tried to live! Nobody can be happy if they have never been sad. So let your child go, run, fall, and get up again. Encourage, support, and love unconditionally. Take one day at a time even when it’s challenging. Most importantly, remind them to be aware of their current joy. Emphasize that this is the vital ingredient of a happy life.
10. Where to Start
If you feel a little bit lost or need more information, let’s look at these two examples.
Scenario A (Small Child)
If you have a small child, you might not even have to worry about their lack of motivation. However, you can start developing success habits and routines that will help you have an open and honest relationship with your child. Tips No. 2 and 3 are probably the most important ones for you right now. Start building a strong relationship with your little one, learn about their dreams, personality, and abilities, observe how they interact, and create reward systems that help them succeed.
Scenario B (Teenager)
If you have a teenager, Tips No. 1, 3, and 4 (empowering, listening to your child and teaching the value of money) might be more appropriate to motivate them. Simple rewards might not work for you, because you need to understand the cause of the lack of motivation. You need to understand the relationship you have with your teenager and build on that.
|Read Another Interesting Article: 12 advantages of online courses for kids compared to traditional face-to-face learning|
However old your child is, it’s never too early or too late to develop strong family ties and mutual trust. It may be easier or harder depending on the age to motivate your child, but at the end of the day, you should focus on understanding your child and putting yourself in their shoes. They may not be mature enough to do that for you, so it’s your responsibility to be mature for both of you.
Editor: Michael Mitryakov | Writer: Gia
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