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, the “lack of motivation” has to be the 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 the 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.
A Parent’s Goal
Creating self-starters, and fostering motivated kids who remain on task, is every parent’s goal. Let me offer some practical solutions to increase motivation in your kids.
Do you have a four-year old who doesn’t want to clean up her toys after playing, an eight-year old who doesn’t want to do his homework, or a twelve-year old who doesn’t want to complete her chores? If you do, you’re not alone.
How do you cope?
- 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 our threats.
- Maybe you have 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!”
Let’s 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 may be responsive to your cheers as would a toddler, who may feel rewarded by your praise.
However, kids may not comply with something 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 chores), 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 wants to spend time with, etc. These are rewarding to the child, and may be motivational.
Remember, as your kids grow, what motivates them today might not motivate them tomorrow.
This is an excerpt from my book “Create Happy Kids” – If you would like to enjoy the entire book, you can purchase it by clicking here.