External Influences and Sustainability
In the process of motivating your kids, you will find that your kids are also influenced by others. If that influence is positive – great! But sometimes, others’ behavior and words might be de-motivating for your kids.
Although parental influence is typically the strongest in a child’s life, parents may face challenges cleaning up bad effects created by other sources. After all, keeping kids at home, away from all the other people who might tell them they cannot succeed or expose them to stories of despair and failure, is virtually impossible.
So what can parents do?
I would recommend becoming aware of the various sources of information and pressure in your kids’ life and focusing on balancing them with your own values. Bear in mind, some influences cannot be eliminated, such as partners who do share your attitude, siblings with a negative outlook and other family members you cannot stop seeing. Instead of saying bad things about those people, try to emphasize the others who present the right attitude and behavior.
Discover the Naysayers
To deal with your kids’ de-motivators, you need to identify who they are and what they do to de-motivate your kids:
- Make a list of all your kids’ influencers – family members, friends, carers, teachers, teammates, playmates and so on
- Rate their influence on your kids (from 1-10) – in terms of motivation, how positive are they and how important is their opinion?
- Ask your kids to rate their influence as well
- Compare what you think about those peoples’ influence and what your kids think about it
- Order the list with strong and very negative influencers at the top. Unimportant and positive people can be taken off
- Discuss with your kids how those people contribute to their life in a good way and how they contribute in a “not so good” way. Guide your kids by asking age-appropriate questions that will help them recall and classify behaviors and events
- Counter de-motivating influences by providing positive examples and linking them to positive results and happiness. For example, if one of your kids has a “cool” friend who refuses to practice playing the piano, give an example of someone else who practices happily and succeeds, while still being “cool” (Harry Connick Jr? Stevie Wonder? Alicia Keys?)
- When making a list of influencers, you can do the same exercise on yourself (did you see that one coming?). Ask who has influenced your own life? Start with the family circle, teachers, friends and even neighbors. You are likely to find influences you have never thought about
- Comparing rating will give you an indication of the difference between your perception and your kids’. No one is right! It is just a perception. However, I believe that kids are young and cannot always see through things. I can see bad influences on my 20 year old daughter that she does not recognize at all. This is because I see them from the outside, but also because I am a parent and I have more life experience
- If you think someone is de-motivating your kids, ask them, “Do you think this is a good thing to do/say?” Sometime, this question alone will do the trick
- Keep telling your kids you want them to hang around people who will make them feel and think highly of themselves and motivate them to be the best they can be. It may help them think of some of their relationships that are not so healthy for them
- Bear in mind you cannot eliminate some influences at all. Bad mouthing that person is not a good technique as it pushes your kids to take sides and might leave you on the losing side. Work for your kids’ good, not against anybody else. Guide your kids towards their own “Aha” moments and let them make their own changes
Usually, finding the de-motivators and their methods is a good way of finding what works on your kids. For example, if someone puts them down with words, you can use the praise and appreciation techniques to counter that. If they are influenced by people who give them gifts, you can counter that with your own rewards (see other posts in this series).
Self motivation and sustainability
The main aim in motivating your kids is to make them think self-motivating thoughts by themselves, which will ensure they will be able to find strength within themselves to move forward. Here is a quote I love very much by Marianne Williamson, which expresses the challenges of adopting self-motivating thoughts. This can be great inspiration for kids and grownups alike. I have it posted in many places in the house and I have put a copy of it in each of my kids’ albums.
I’m proud of me!
From a very early stage, kids learn to be modest and because they do not fully understand the meaning of modesty, kids confuse being proud with being arrogant. Therefore, they find it hard to have happy, positive thoughts about themselves in fear of being seen as condescending. Believe it or not, most people would rather think low of themselves than be considered arrogant.
If your kids can motivate themselves, you know your job is half done, because they will be able to fill their confidence tank by themselves and be happy.
You are probably asking yourself, “How long will I have to motivate my kids for?” The answer is probably, “For the rest of your life”. However, you may not need to do much when your kids are grown ups and can fill in their own bowls of praise and self-appreciation. You will not have to work that hard when they surround themselves with people who share the same values as you and who will be able to motivate and support them even when you are not around.
When your kids have the right people around them, coupled with the right attitude and skills to motivate themselves, you can relax and be certain you have put them on the right path.
When my kids say, “I was very proud of myself today”, I know I have done a good job as a parent.
First, give your kids some “fish” – love, care, happy experiences and encouragement to make sure they will survive. Then, teach them how to “fish” – encourage them to love themselves, to care for themselves and to give themselves happy experiences.
Only when you reach that second level does your motivation become sustainable!
- Find your kids influencers and pick the de-motivators
- Compare what you think about those influencers with your kids’ perception
- Work with your kids on recognizing whether an influence is good for them or not
- Counter de-motivation with encouragement and positive, motivating ideas and never bad-mouth others
- Teach the difference between arrogance and pride and encourage them be proud of themselves
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)