Having a hard time motivating your kids?
It’s about that time of year — the time of year when every kid in America is getting a little harder to motivate. No matter how much they try, they seem to be moving slower in the mornings, running out of energy earlier in the day, and often not trying as hard in school or sports.
As parents, it’s hard to know what’s normal end-of-year slow-down and when we need to weigh in. And sometimes, when we weigh in, it just makes things worse. If this sounds like your family, hang in there! Empowering Parents has some great insight into this and we thought it might be helpful and encouraging.
1. Be Inspiring
The only way to motivate is to stop trying to motivate. Instead, work towards inspiring your child by being an inspiring person. Ask yourself if your behaviors are inspiring or controlling. Understand that your kids will want to run the other way if you’re too controlling. Think about someone in your own life who is inspiring to you, and work towards that goal. Remember, the only thing you’ll motivate if you’re pushing your child is the motivation to resist you.
2. Let Your Child Make His Own Choices—and Face the Consequences
Let your child make his own choices. When it’s a poor choice, hold him accountable by letting him face the natural consequences that come with it. If the consequence of not doing his homework is that the computer is taken away, put the need to get that computer time back in his hands. If he finishes his work, he gets the time on the computer you’ve agreed upon. That will be a motivation for him in the right direction without you telling him what to do, how to do it, and lecturing him on why he should care.
3. Learn What Makes Your Child Tick
- What motivates my child?
- What does he really want?
- What questions can I ask that will help him discover and explore his interests?
- What are his goals and ambitions?
Step far enough away to see your child as a separate person. Then observe what you see. Talk to him to find the answers to the questions above. And then listen—not to what you want the answers to be, but to what your child is saying. Just listen to him. Respect his answers, even if you disagree.
4. Get Your Child to Want to Do the Right Thing
Imagine two doors. Door number one is for the parent who wants to get their kids motivated and do the right thing in life: get up, go to school, get their work done, be successful. Door number two is for parents who want their kids to be self-motivated to do those things. They want to influence their child to work toward the things they’re interested in. To not only do the right thing, but to want to do the right things.
Which door would you enter? If it’s door number one, then the way to achieve that goal is push, punish, beg, nag, bribe, reward, and cajole. If you decide on door number two, then you’ll reach that goal by asking different kinds of questions.
Rather than, “Did you get your homework done?” you might say, “Why did you decide to do your homework today and not yesterday? I noticed you chose not to do geometry yesterday, but you’re doing your history homework today. What’s the difference?” Be an investigator, exploring and uncovering, helping your child discover his own motivations and sticking points.
The goal is to influence your child when he has to do something he doesn’t want to do, and get to know him well enough to figure out what his own desires might be. As a parent, you want to strengthen his skills in defining what’s important to him. You want to help your child define for himself who he is, what’s important to him and what he’s going to do to make those things happen.
Our responsibility is to help our kids do that, not to do it for them. We need to stay out of their way enough so they can figure out who they are, what they think and where their own interests lie.
Goal is self-motivation!