When kids pursue their desires, whether they allow you to motivate them or not, they face difficulties and may be discouraged many time along the way. In fact, every unsuccessful event may cause them to give up. Their natural reaction may not be “I should try something else” but “Maybe this is not important enough to me”. After all, they are just kids and this is a natural reaction for most people.
Giving up is a reaction to something that is seen as “too hard”. Your job as a parent is to help your kids develop a “can do” attitude and not even consider the “other” option (giving up).
If you want to help your kids develop a “can do” attitude, you must be a “can do” person yourself. Role-modeling is always the best approach and it makes you an inspiring person for the little people around you.
The great thing about the “Gentle Reminder” technique is that you can use it even when your kids have not given you permission to motivate them. This motivation is not as strong as some others, but it is as effective if done enough times. All you do is bring up the topics you would like to encourage your kids on.
Be a role model
Ask yourself these questions:
- In which areas can you be an inspiration to your kids?
- Where in your life have you achieved or overcome something with a “can do” attitude?
- Have you told your kids about your successes?
- Realize that some areas in life are easier for you to inspire in.
- In areas where you are not a good model, find someone else to provide the encouragement. For example, divorced parents have a real challenge motivating their kids towards forming good long-term relationships, but may be able to turn to grandparents who have been together for ages.
- Find opportunities to tell your kids about what you have experienced, both good and bad, that brought you to where you are now.
- When you tell about yourself, do not ask for permission like, “Can I tell you about something that happened to me?” Instead, say, “This reminds me of…”, “You know, when I was 6…” or “I want to tell you a story… ” My kids love stories, so when I say I have a story, they are happy to listen.
To be honest, gentle reminders are another name for “mild nagging”, but in a way, they are not invasive and it is clear to all – parents and kids – that the parents’ agenda is being served.
It is very important to keep the reminders positive, otherwise the kids will do the opposite. Negative reminders reinforce the fact that the kids are not successful, incapable or not motivated and may involve a sarcastic spin. Sarcasm and negativity create fear and enlarge the gap between you and your kids, so stick to encouragement and support.
- Anything you want your kids to do, try on yourself first. It will help you learn what goes on in their heads.
- Avoid negative statements like “You promised!” Those trigger fear of disapproval, fear of failure, fear of criticism, guilt and shame.
- Avoid name calling. This will trigger the same fears including fear of rejection.
- Do not play the dark fortune teller – “You will end up losing all your friends”, “You won’t have any money left” or “You will regret this”. Remember you are trying to help, not to force your kids to do what you think is best.
- Use questions – “Dan, when did you say you were going to start your project?” or “What are your plans for the project?” Questions are a wonderful way to overcome resistance.
- Sarcastic questions are not really questions. They are rude statements that mock the listener (read Parenting the Socrates Way (2) for more).
- Remind your kids you are there to help – “Alex, if you need my help with your spelling words, just tell me when”, “I am here to help” or “Do you need any help with your project?”
- Remind your kids that the real reward is the final outcome and their own feeling of success and achievement.
- If your kids do not succeed, let them know it is not the end of the world. Nothing is the end of the world (except the end of the world, of course). Every pain is temporary and there is always something we can do to feel better.
- If your kids do not succeed, focus on how they feel (as opposed to how you feel). Ask them, “How do you feel about it?” or “What do you think you can do next time?” If they are very worried about what happened tell them, say, “There is no way for us to change what happened, be we can change what will happen in the future”. Say it enough times and one day, your kids will start saying it to themselves.
To be continued…
This post is part of the series Motivating Kids:
- Motivating Kids (1)
- Motivating Kids (2)
- Motivating Kids (3)
- Motivating Kids (4)
- Motivating Kids (5)
- Motivating Kids (6)
- Motivating Kids (7)
- Motivating Kids (8)
- Motivating Kids (9)
- Motivating Kids (10)
- Motivating Kids (11)
- Motivating Kids (12)
- Motivating Kids (13)
- Motivating Kids (14)
- Motivating Kids (15)
- Motivating Kids (16)
- Motivating Kids (17)
- Motivating Kids (18)
- Motivating Kids (19)