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In my day to day practice, I often hear from parents -‘Why doesn’t he put more effort in his school work? Why doesn’t he care? Why is he more interested in watching T.V. or playing online games when he knows that there is a submission tomorrow?’ As a parent and parenting skills guide I would like to address this issue keeping my focus on parents with children in 6-9 grades.
Do you feel that the child has some behavior problem; he does not care; he is lazy….? No, it is not so. He may be angry or discouraged. He may be frustrated or not so confident. He may be feeling that it’s not worth it…. The easiest approach for anyone to handle difficulty is to pretend ‘not to care’. Actually he cares. All children when not angry or discouraged generally want to perform well. They like being praised and are keen to seek approval of their elders. So where did the things go wrong?
While dealing with the issue and interacting with parents I have realized that there are some common mistakes that all parents make.
Blaming peers, media or television
Negative display of frustration and anger along with reprimanding child
Misconception that children are generally lazy
Undiagnosed attention and learning disorders
These mistakes often lead to demoralization or lack of motivation in children. Keep in mind that children may be frustrated, discouraged, and angry, stressed, anxious, disinterested etc . . . . but are not lazy. As a parent, relate lack of motivation to any of the above and try to find a solution by taking a more positive approach toward the problem.I have provided below some positive parenting tips that will surely help you in making your child a more enthusiastic learner and achiever.
Six Positive Ways of motivating Your child
1.Channelize your child’s energy.
Every person around you is motivated , only difference is that each individual is motivated towards different things. Rather than calling the child unmotivated, we can say that the child is motivated towards not performing, resisting parents efforts etc. He is actually putting in a lot of effort to maintain that position. Children are energetic brainy people. But we as parents are more experienced at handling people and getting our tasks done. So why not use your experience to channelize them and to motivate them towards concrete achievements. Start thinking differently Handle them in a different , friendlier manner. Steer them towards a positive tomorrow that can only be achieved with sustained hard work.
2.Develop a genuine interest in their interest.
Let me give you an example here. Your child is interested in playing basketball but you are keen he learns tennis. You enroll him in tennis classes. Result: every day you need to push him to get ready for the class. Your conclusion , he is not interested in sports.
Now let us reverse the scene. You enroll him in a basketball coaching camp with the thought that the main aim is to play a sport to have a better outlook towards life and for good health. Choosing tennis or basketball is insignificant. Result: He is ready before time, remembers the scheduled days of the class, feels closer to you ,shares his experiences with you about the class and other day to day activities feeling that you as a parent are with him and understand him. This lays the foundation for a stronger bond between you and your child .
The choice is yours and,you as a parent, would like to choose the best for your child. In our desire to improve them we often miss the necessary aspect of connecting to them. Keep in mind that all children are basically positive people who like to be praised about their actions.
3. Do not reprimand or blame, talk to your child.
Talk to them. Accept that they too can be frustrated, discouraged, stressed, not so confident at times. Understand and accept their feelings. Preaching to them about hard work is not good enough and you already know that it doesn’t work. Connect to them. Understand their problems and if they need your help, help them. Find the cause, set approachable targets, discuss ways of achieving the targets in set duration and then trust them enough to leave them free to achieve those targets.
4. Use the magic wand, called: Encouragement
Set clear goals with specific deadlines and encourage them to achieve those goals. Make a note of all the effort the child puts in towards the achievement these goals. Praise them for their efforts and encourage them to wards improvement irrespective of the fact whether they achieve their goals or not. Keep reminding them of their positives and when they are in a mood to hear, discuss with them ways in which they can do better. But remember, life is beyond class rooms and disappointments. As a parent if you able to encourage your child towards positive growth, you can instill enough energy in them to make a sustained effort towards their goals.
5. Shift your focus
Every child has some strong points. Observe your child. Identify his strengths and then focus on developing those strengths. Shift your focus from pointing out his weaknesses to building up a foundation for future success. Work on building their inner pride as the world is beyond the classrooms. Help them create a positive image of themselves, where strengths form the strong central core of their personality and their difficulties, frustrations are sidelined to a corner. People who achieve have a strong positive belief in their ability to achieve.
6. Be like a good coach
Encourage your child to do better. Show him the way but stop doing your child’s tasks. Let them do their own daily chores. Appreciate the effort and progress. Guide them but never do their things for them. This surely makes them more confident.
And yes, remove the goodies like television,X-box etc. from their room. Install them in a common living space. Coaches have to be focused and entertainment has to be earned, right?
In short motivation is a combination of having clear goals, feeling of confidence to achieve those goals along with recognition of the efforts put in to achieve those goals. Motivation comes from a positive feeling that ‘yes! I can do it.’ You as a parent have the power to create that feeling in your child.
Suggested Reading positive-grandparenting
©Dr. Moninder Kaur 2014