Children can achieve just about anything if they are motivated enough, yet they will learn very little if motivation is missing.
– Michael Grose
The researchers these days believe that the important factors in a child’s success are not just mental skills or intelligence but other important qualities like determination, willpower and motivation. Hence it is very important to keep your child motivated. There are varied ways to keep your child inspired and motivated. Albert Einstein once famously remarked “It’s not that I’m so smart, “It’s just that I stay with problems longer.” giving the credit for his success not to his intellect, but his motivation to persist.
Rewards are often used as a tool to encourage child. For example, you can ask your child to achieve 80% marks in his final examinations and then he will receive a long pending gift of his choice from you as a reward.
But this comes with a side effect. As per Edward Deci, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Rochester though it is true that rewards motivate people to complete tasks but generally the behavior then becomes dependent on the rewards and may stop when the rewards are stopped. Also, it is important to treat your child to a reward rarely else the child may become habitual and dependent on the reward system. Psychologist and Parents advisor Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., coauthor of Smart Parenting for Smart Kids says, nowadays many kids can often work their way around any reward system thus defeating its purpose.
A smart and more wholesome way of rewarding kids is to reward them with active time together. Instead of bribing your kids with toys or video games , make additional time with them such as a bike ride together, a whole day with you planned as per their choice be their reward. You would be surprised, how well this works since kids crave parental attention; especially if they have to share time with siblings.
Strike a Conversation
The kids always appreciate conversation, even when they are very small. Dr. Dana from University of Chicago noticed a stark difference in how the non -hearing children acquired language as compared to the hearing children. As per her one on one talk with kids is very important and crucial for the child’s motivation.
Children are curious beings and involving them in conversation and often welcoming them to strike a conversation will make parents understand them much more. The most common conversation topics could be the child’s interests, best friends in school, subjects that interest him or her least and why and what support he would want from your side etc. When you converse with them focus on solutions to problems rather than harping on setback. This way you will be setting the right example for your child to follow.
Appreciation is the key
Always appreciate your child on a job even slightly well done. For example, if your child gets ready for his school without you helping him, please let him know how comfortable it was for you that you could dedicate your time in kitchen without the usual multi tasking and rush and how neatly he has dressed up.
Be mindful that there is a small but very important difference between praise and encouragement. While words of praise such as ‘excellent’, well done etc are good to be used but over relying on them makes the child to rely on parents’ assessment of his/ her accomplishments.
Instead words of encouragement lead the child to form their own positive assessment of themselves. An ideal example of encouragement may be, “look at that work of art, I can tell that you put your best efforts and a lot of time on it. It must feel good, Isn’t it?”
Celebrate achievements and accept the failure
Throw a small get together or take the kid out for dinner when your child does well in his examinations or wins a sports trophy. At the same time teach your child to accept that sometimes they will fail. Accepting the loss or win gracefully, will give them the capability to handle impediments later in life.
Some parents themselves get dissappointed with child’s failure rather than teaching them to accept the failure and move on. As per Madeline Levine the author of The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected, parents should see failure as an opportunity to teach the kid that he is strong and can deal with setbacks in life instead of treating I as a source of pain.
Teaching kids to lose or win gracefully will give them the lifelong ability to deal with setbacks and remain motivated.
Include yourself in your child’s studies and his play. Take interest in his homework. You can read to your child or he can read stories for you. This will interest him towards his studies.
A study by researchers, finds that parental involvement, checking homework, attending school meetings and events, discussing school activities at home, has a more powerful influence on students’ academic performance.
Adapt to Their Learning Style
Each child is different is an oft repeated yet oft ignored phrase. Some children will sit and listen to new information while others like to pick things up and use them straight away. Adapting to their preferred way of learning will keep learning fun and motivate them to learn more.
Set realistic goals
Goals turn expectations from thoughts into reality. Knowing what and how much he is expected to do will help him plan a strategy and the way to do it. Research shows that we are more likely to accomplish written goals than those we merely talk about, perhaps because written goals provide a visual reminder of what we need to do.
But it is equally important to make the goals specific and realistic. If the goals are too high to be achieved, the child will get demotivated in the start of the project. But if he feels that the goals are well within reach, he will strive to achieve it.