Motivating kids is an art. Unfortunately, having kids and parenting them is not enough to master this art. Motivating your kids requires taking responsibility for your kids’ motivation and making a commitment to keep learning and improving your motivational skills to an art form.
What you need to remember is that if you try each and every exercise presented to you in this series, you will surely find the best way to motivate your own kids. Success lies in the combination between your kids’ personalities and needs with yours.
I hope I have managed to convey the message that you are the key! What you think, what you feel and what you need are very important to your success in motivating your kids to be happy, healthy and successful in life.
I can reassure you that many parents manage to make huge changes in their relationships with their kids by using only a single activity from what I have presented here. If you think it takes a long time to make a change, please know that most of the times, it is hard to recognize the change, but nevertheless, the change occurs.
If you look at your reflection in the mirror, you may not be able to see your changes, but if you take a photo of yourself and look at it in 3 months, you will be able to see the change clearly. This is why I recommend measuring the progress in your ability to motivate your kids. You will be surprised to find out how much has changed if you just focus on it.
Here is a summary of all chapters of the Motivating Kids series. I hope it will be a great reminder of how to master this form of art. The details are in the individual posts, but this list will quickly remind you what to do:
- All parents want to motivate their kids. Do not fall into the trap of saying “I accept everything my kids do”, because if it were true, you would not be reading this post. No one brings kids to the world to let them find by themselves (the hard way) how to be healthy, successful and happy.
- Your definition of motivation is crucial. Motivating is not encouraging your kids to do what you want, but to do what they want.
- If you want to encourage kids to be, do or have something they want, you must first find out what they want. Ask!
- If you want your kids to want a lot (which will guarantee they will have more of it) encourage them to dream and dream big!
- Kids have a challenge with responsibility when they feel overwhelmed. This is natural, so be understanding to their desire to transfer responsibility to you. Your expectations must be suitable to their age, to their abilities and to the situation.
- Teach your kids to chunk down and focus on small goals. Even grownups feel overwhelmed when they have no idea how to handle a situation. It is just normal. Focusing on smaller bits is always a good way to lower the stress level.
- Trying again and again, even if we fail, teaches us something that may be useful next time.
- Help your kids do something to achieve what they want. They must take action to get there. Waiting for success to fall from the sky is one of the main causes of people’s struggle in our society – they feel helpless. Even when opportunity knocks, you must open the door for it to come in.
- Emphasize the process, not the end result. When you are too focused on end result, you risk raising “perfectionists” and overcoming that is harder than overcoming lack of motivation.
- Understand that your encouragements are suggestions only and it is your kids’ right to choose to take or not to take your advice. Forcing them to accept your help is not helpful. In fact, it destroys their motivation.
- Praise and appreciation are the most basic and easiest motivational techniques. They are free and easily accessible (if you have a strong emotional intelligence as a parent). Use them often. If you get short on ideas, use the list in chapter 3: motivation techniques.
- To make it easy for you to give your kids praise, remember they have a bowl of praises and this bowl has a direct connection to their success in life. Until kids can fill in this bowl by themselves, it is their parents’ responsibility to fill it up. Do not waste a day of your life without by not telling your kids how much you love them, how much they mean to you and how wonderful they are. If you are upset, look harder for something good to focus on.
- Giving rewards is a great way to motivate kids. If you are afraid that your kids “will get used to it”, make sure you reward after, not before.
- It is better to prepare a reward list before you need it. Make sure you agree with your partner on the rewards, so the kids do not “divide and conquer”. Make sure your kids are aware of the system you are using and stick only to things you can follow. Do not bargain on rewards. Parenting is not a marketplace – there is no haggling.
- Remember that kids are different and need different rewards. Adapt the reward for the age and character of each child and do not be tempted to tell “old time stories” of how in the old days, your reward was the shoes you got for Christmas.
- Privileges are great rewards. You can be very creative with this technique. I gave my kids “permission” to read books and now going to the library is a great reward for them (see The Book Whisperer).
- Emotional stretching is a good technique to motivate kids, because it is gradual movement forward. Explain to your kids how stretches develop character and strength and encourage them to recognize when they are stretching themselves positively.
- Explain to your kids that doing just a bit every time can take them a long way and all they need to do is focus on the next step, even if they want to climb a high mountain. Teach your kids to do “just a little bit more”.
- Inspiration is a gentle form of motivating. Learning from others who have “done it” gives kids the necessary belief it is possible.
- Teach your kids “taking” skills and not only with the things you give them. You can be a very inspiring person, but if your kids do not know how to learn from you, the inspiration goes to waste.
- Every character trait you want your kids to have, start teaching it as early as possible. It is much harder to start when your kids are teens (which is when they need motivation the most).
- Envy can be a source of inspiration – use it! Just make sure you read the tips of how to turn envy from a negative to a useful emotion.
- Find out who inspired you and how you can use their example or their help in motivating your kids.
- Help your kids realize what they already have in them that can lead them to where they want to go. Using existing traits is always easier than learning new ones.
- Pick the character traits you would like your kids to have and link them to people who possess these traits. Remember, your kids do not have enough life experience to choose the right people to spend time with. It is your responsibility to direct them to the most inspirational people.
- Fear is a natural feeling of perceived danger. Some parents think it is a great motivator, because it makes kids do what the parents want, but in fact, fear creates only short term gain but long term pain.
- Fear is not a healthy method of motivating kids, because it teaches the kids to perceive danger in your words and actions, making you someone they cannot trust.
- Many behaviors that seem unmotivated are often strong reactions to fear. Fear is a strong action inhibitor. Stay away from it if you want to motivate your kids.
- You need to discover your kids’ fears and make sure to never use them if you do not want them to see you as a bully. If you do use fear as a motivating method, you are on your way to raising little victims.
- Talk about your fears with your kids. This will show them you are human and help to legitimize their fears.
- Help your kids develop healthy ways to deal with their fears. We all have fears. The difference is in how do we deal with them.
- Planning is good for motivation. It helps your kids deal with their fear of the unknown. Many kids seem unmotivated when fear makes them unable to move forward. Planning can help them see options they cannot see otherwise.
- Use a calendar to teach planning. Not everyone likes calendars, but you can find something that suits your kids’ taste. I used a calendar with 2-year-olds who could not read a word to tell them what the plan of the day was by using pictures and stickers.
- Use a family calendar to encourage collaboration and consideration between family members. It is simple and cheep.
- Deadlines can be sticks or carrots, depending on your kid’s personal style. Work your way towards carrots.
- Deadlines are only effective as self motivators. When kids set their own deadlines, they get motivated, but when the deadlines are external, they can inspire fear (fear and motivation cannot go together).
- Use what, where, when, who and how questions to practice planning.
- Give your kids lots of practice time and do not expect them to do things perfectly in the first attempt.
- Teamwork can be a good source of motivation. Performance should be better with kids who are motivated by teamwork. Make sure to study your kids and find out whether they are the type of kids that will enjoy and be motivated by working in a team. Some kids are not and it is quite OK. Not all kids are the same.
- Competition can be a good motivator. Again, I would recommend reading the tips about how to treat competition to make sure it does not backfire.
- Overly competitive kids should not be encouraged to use this technique as a motivator. Perfectionists are harder to deal with than unmotivated kids.
- If your kids are too competitive, consider your attitude. Kids are mirrors. Sometimes we do not pay attention, but our desire for them to succeed and excel can give messages of competitiveness.
- If you want competition to work to your advantage, emphasize the process and not the end result. When kids learn that the process has a lot more to offer than the end result, they “enjoy the ride” and are less frustrated by things not going exactly as they expect.
- Even when you use the competition for motivating, focus on teamwork. Competition as a team and not against others in the team can bring the morale up.
- When you want to motivate your kids effectively, get their permission first! Otherwise, your advice may be considered an invasion.
- When kids give their parents’ permission to help, it is usually a sign of good communication between them. Seek permission!
- Help without permission may be rejected. Remember, you cannot force anyone to accept your advice or your help. They need to want it.
- Getting permission from your kids will make sure the motivation to succeed (the ownership of success) is in your kids’ hands.
- When your kids say “No”, leave the door open.
- After you have your kids’ permission, consider gentle reminders as an easy way to motivate them without being considered a nagger.
- Gentle reminders can sometimes be used even when your kids do not give you permission to help them (note I wrote “gentle”). The opposite of gentleness is aggressiveness. Again, you cannot force kids to accept help.
- Gentle reminders need to be positive. Sarcastic reminders are not positive. Stay away from sarcasm if you want to motivate your kids. Keep in mind you are helping them for their sake and not yours.
- Quotes are a good gentle reminder. I have put quotes in every chapter to make it easy for you to use. Feel free to print and use the quotes as gentle reminders.
- Quotes inspire self motivating ideas that will later become part of who your kids are and will be reflected in their behaviors and their attitude towards the world around them.
- Find your kids’ influencers and deal with de-motivators. Parenting is easier when you know what the obstacles are to transferring your values.
- Find out if your kids think about their influencers the same way you do. You will be surprised to find that from some influencers you consider bad for your kids, they learn “how not to behave”, which is a good thing.
- Talk to your kids about the people who influence their life. Kids are just young and lack experience and long-term perspective. Highlight your differences in values and talk to them about that influence.
- Counter de-motivation with encouragement and positive, motivating ideas and thoughts and never bad mouth others.
- When you find out your motivating techniques are working, focus on self motivation to make sure it will continue long after yours stops.
- Discuss the difference between arrogance and pride to help your kids develop their self pride and self appreciation. Teach your kids to be proud of themselves!
When your kids say, “I’m proud of myself”, it is time for you to celebrate and be proud of yourself too, because you have done it!
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)