M = Motivate Kids
Inspire children to explore and succeed on their own.
As parents, we want to raise happy and successful kids, and we want them to know how proud we are of them and that their family is their #1 fan and cheerleader. We also want to strike a balance. Pushing a child too hard can cause resentment and may result in a child who achieves at a young age only to abandon pursuits as soon as their old enough to make decisions for themselves. Cheering them on can help, but it can also make them dependent on outside encouragement. Ideally, we want to nurture self-motivated children who know what it takes to success, can visualize the steps they need to take, and will reach their goals. Instead of pushing kids to achieve because they’re told to, inspire them to explore and succeed on their own. Motivated kids grow into motivated adults who are self starters, disciplined and in charge of their own happiness.
According to the National Education Association, teachers reported that only 40% of kids were motivated and engaged.
- Offer plenty of variety and space for exploring interests. One way to encourage self-motivation is to allow children to pursue the things in which they have a genuine interest. Instead of investing in lessons for one particular sport, for example, try out a day camp where several sports, arts and science activities are included. Expose your kids to different types of subjects and experiences and wait for them to tell you where they want to put their focus. If they’re doing what they love, they’re more likely to be motivated to do it well, thus learning internal motivational strengths that they can later apply to other pursuits.
- Take an interest in your child’s interests. Show enthusiasm for the subjects and activities your children enjoy. If they take an interest in a subject you don’t know much about, make an effort to learn more about it right along with them. Take on family interests to model motivation!
- Cheer on the process, not just the outcome. Children respond to praise and positive reinforcement. Always be on the lookout for an opportunity to tell your child you are proud of them for every step of the way, and celebrate the process of life, not just the big victories. Attending practice every day is just as valuable and enjoyable in the long run as scoring a soccer goal is. This is especially true because not all activities have a final grade or natural ending point. Observing milestones and the steps along the way can be fun for everyone.
- Help your child set reasonable goals. A great motivator is the feeling of accomplishment, and defining that accomplishment yourself is incredibly empowering. Set your child up for success by encouraging them to set realistic goals that they can achieve, and then teach them to build on that success. If they initially set very lofty goals, help them break big goals up into smaller steps that can be mastered.
Scholastic offers 10 tips for motivating your child to learn. GreatSchools.org offers suggestions for motivating children with learning disabilities or attention problems, many of which can be applied to all children.