How to Motivate Your Children
What will motivate Sam to clean his room? Laura to do her homework? Thomas to brush his teeth without being told? Suzi to practice her violin? Or Henry just to be excited about learning? We’re all motivated in one way or another, usually by a passion, interest, or goal. When that investment isn’t there, many times neither is the motivation. It’s no different for kids. So how do we help to create that internal sense of motivation in our children as they weather this awkward, challenging, and exciting world?
Here are a few strategies that can help you to positively encourage success and motivate your children.
Create An Actual Road Map to Success
Find out what pushes your child to succeed. Is she competitive or self-directed? Does he prefer rewards or is the sense of accomplishment satisfying enough? Does she thrive on challenges or will too much difficulty make her want to give up? Once you’ve identified these traits, you can help your child set goals and then develop a plan with the right strategies to meet them. Choosing the right goal is important. Having a plan makes it easier for kids because it provides a concrete map of how to reach their goal such as a chart with stickers that a child can add as he or she meets certain steps. The visible march toward that goal generates a pride of accomplishment.
Encourage Their Sense of Pride
Praise is always better than criticism. Positive reinforcement, the celebration of accomplishment, or even acknowledging their efforts lets your child know how proud you are of him or her. You can reward your child for hard work — such as a special time with Mom or Dad or a favorite activity. But even more importantly, help him or her to develop their own sense of accomplishment. When a child is proud of what they have done, they are more likely to repeat their actions to experience the feelings of self-pride again.
Acknowledge The Obstacles
Be honest and positive. Encourage your child but also acknowledge doubts and fears — we all have them — and teach to strategize ways to overcome them. Talk about how sometimes we may fail and that it is OK if that happens. Explain it’s the effort and what one does with the experience that matters, that those lows help create highs. Understanding that bumps may arise in the course of reaching a goal but those problems can be solved, helps kids develop resilience, self-confidence, and motivation to move forward and keep on trying.
Be The Role Model
What better example to follow than that of your mom or dad. If you want your child to say “please” and “thank you,” then say “please” and “thank you” to them. If you want your child to brush his teeth before bed, let him see you doing the same. If you want your child to offer to help with chores, then let him see you offer to put away the dishes or take out the trash. Always put forth your best effort towards achieving your personal goals. Allow your children to see you in the process of accomplishing what you set out to do, and witness when you reach success. Watching you succeed will motivate your children to do the same.
Explore Their Interests Together
One of the most wonderful aspects of childhood is the joy and wonder kids have in the world around them. Their interests and passions veer wildly in younger years — bugs and ballerinas one month, baseball cards and guitar the next month, skateboarding and volleyball the next. The world, it seems, is a treasure chest filled with so many cool surprises! Use this to your advantage and expand on interests and passions that they have already discovered. Have as much fun as your children exploring these interests as they develop. Take them to the library to check out books on bugs or sign them up for dance class or guitar lessons. When they know you’re just as excited about learning with them, their love for learning only multiplies. And isn’t that the most motivating factor of all?
It is our job as parents to help guide, and teach our children how to succeed. Figuring out how to motivate our children isn’t always easy. Just as with parenting, there’s no master plan to follow. But, as we’ve learned in adulthood, developing an internal motivation — not one that always requires rewards, is one of the best gifts we can give to our children.