One good way to inspire motivation is to use others who have succeeded as role models and try to learn from them. Can you imagine kids growing up to think that many people around them, both younger and older, are sources of inspiration?
As parents, we are more focused on giving to our kids than on teaching them to take
– Ronit Baras
We are constantly giving to our kids. We want to give them knowledge and rules. We want to give them money and support. Instead, we should be teaching them to take understandings and inspiration from the people around them – parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, teachers, friends, their school janitor, their music teacher, their bus driver and the countless other people in their lives.
For most kids, envy is a familiar emotion. It exists from a very young age, as soon as kids must share toys, and intensifies in high school into significant social struggles. Most people consider envy a negative emotion, but, being a powerful motivator, it can be converted into inspiration.
Note that inspiring teens is much more challenging than it inspiring young children. Challenging, but not impossible! In other words, start early but do not despair if you are starting when your kids are teens.
Who’s your inspiration?
Ask your kids “If you could be anyone you wanted, who would you want to be?” and when you find out 3-4 people they envy, ask why. The reasons are very important for you to shift your kids from envy to inspiration.
What do you find inspiring in others?
If you do know of someone your kids find inspiring, ask them “What does this person have that you want to have too?” It is very important to elaborate on the things these kids/people have that your kids may find inspiring. For example:
- What character traits they have that help them? Persistence, optimism, determination, courage, friendliness…
- What talents they have that help them? Musical ability, knowledge, physical strength, artistic flair…
- What support they have that help them? Parents, siblings, family member, coaches, friends…
- What resources they have that help them? Computer programs, books, money, outfit, gadgets…
Are you inspiring already?
Ask your kids “In what ways are you already like the person you want to be (like)?”
Envy is a result of kids (and grownups) not realizing their own character traits, talents, support and resources. This question will facilitate the transition from envy to inspiration. If they are already like their role models in some ways, it should be easier to be more like them.
What inspires you?
Think of books that may inspire your kids. Make a list of these books so that you can borrow them next time you go to the library and read them with your kids. If your kids are teens, you can read the books separately and then talk about them.
Think of movies that may inspire your kids. Make a list of these movies so that you can borrow them next time you go to the video store and watch them with your kids.
I find that the most recent animated films can be very inspiring. I watch them with my kids and talk to them about what they can learn from the movie. Watching movies has great educational value for parents and most movies that are appropriately rated offer some value.
Books and movies allow kids to say “I wish I was like this” or “I wish I could do that” more freely, because the characters are not directly involved in their life. This also keeps any subsequent discussion much less emotional.
- Encourage your kids to associate with kids who can inspire them. If they want to have lots of friends, help them get together with friendly kids. If they want to be good in swimming, help them get together with dedicated swimmers and so on.
- Say good things about the people your kids want to be like, but do not compare. Encourage your kids to be inspired by saying good things about those people. “Tim played so well today, he is so dedicated and cooperative. He deserved the award today” or “Sharon was so funny in the show. She is so talented. It is wonderful that you’re friends”
- Ask the librarian for help – most librarians have lists of books on the topics you want and they are very happy to direct you to the exact place in the library.
Focus your inspiration
When you help your kids find inspiration from others, try to find within you the things you would like your kids to have or be. If you know what kind of character traits you want your kids to have, it will be easier for you to pick the right people to inspire those things in your kids.
Below there is a list of positive character traits. When you look at them, I am sure you will wish you kids could have all of them. Unfortunately, it is not easy to focus on all of them, not even in a life time, and you have less than 18 years. Therefore, choose only 10 character traits you would most like your kids to have.
- Think of traits you have yourself that will be good for your kids.
- Think of traits you think you do not have, but would like to inspire in your kids through other people.
- First tick all the traits you would like your kids to have. Then, combine similar traits. Finally, narrow down the list by picking the most important, then the next, and so on until you have 10.
- Character traits can be developed. Let you kids know they can choose to have any quality they want by focusing on it, even if they were not born with it.
- If you have older kids, show them the list and ask them to pick their top 10 traits as well. You may be surprised with the results.
- Every person interprets things differently, so it is important to ensure your definitions match those of your kids. Ask them what does it mean for them to be “Brave”, “Persistent” and so on.
Positive character traits
- Start when your kids are as young as possible
- Envy can be a source of inspiration – use it!
- Help your kids realize what they already have.
- Pick the character traits you would like your kids to have and link them to people who possess those traits.
Expose your kids to movies and books, which present character traits you would like to encourage.
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)