What Motivates Your Kids?
Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.” – Robert A.Heinlein
If “not being heard” is the number one complaint of most parents, then “lack of motivation” has to be number two! I have often heard parents say, ” I have to ask my kids a million times to get them to finish something.” Although a “million” may be a slight exaggeration, the feeling of frustration is real. The fact is that parents don’t want to follow their kids around all day to make sure they are staying on task. Rather, parents would enjoy supervising and guiding their children in a positive way. Parents want to see their kids initiate a task on their own and gradually become more independent in taking care of their responsibilities.
How to increase your kid’s motivation…
Creating self-starters, and fostering motivated kids who remain on task, is every parent’s goal. I would like to offer some practical solutions to increase motivation in your kids. If you have a four-year-old who doesn’t want to clean up her toys after playing, and eight-year-old who doesn’t want to do his homework, or a twelve-year old who doesn’t want to complete her chores, this this is for you!
You may have lectured your kids about how tough you had it when you were their age. Perhaps you have even attempted to provide incentives for your kid, but you ended up bribing her instead. Maybe in a moment of frustration, you resorted to punishment or threats. Maybe you’ve attempted all of the above. No worries – no damage that can’t be repaired. Let’s not start saving for years of therapy just yet! You may use that money for a college fund. All parents hope to reduce power struggles with their kids. No one drives home from work thinking, “Yay, now I get to go home and argue endlessly with my clever twelve-year-old about why she should complete her chores and homework!”
Instead, let’s focus on the importance of teaching your kids to distinguish between rights and privileges.
The first step is to take a moment to examine the issue from your kid’s point of view. Start by asking yourself” “What really motivates my child?”
For most children between the ages of one and about eight, part of their motivation is their desire to please their parents. The younger the child, the more this is true. An eight-month-old ma be responsive to your cheers as would a toddler who may feel rewarded by your praise. However, kids may not comply with everything you want, such as staying away from the flat-screen TV, because sometimes pleasing you, means losing out on a very attractive activity (like changing channels on the TV by touching the forbidden remote). These reactions are both normal and healthy for kids who are testing boundaries. Your twelve-year-old may not be as motivated to please you if it means he gets to play video games now (instead of doing his shores), and he can deal with you later.
It’s up to you to determine what motivates your kid (aside from pleasing you). You might create a list of things your kid may enjoy. Create the concrete list first. Include items, activities, treats, people your kid want to spend time with, etc. These are rewarding to the child.
In my next article I’ll talk about step #2 – Distinguishing between kid’s right and kid’s privileges.
As a parent strategist, Dr. Sherkat has many tools she can share with you to help strengthen your parenting skills.
She speaks to various groups…you can hire her for your next parenting workshop, conference or parenting event.