Parenting Tips of the Week
I am speaking from personal ongoing experience when I say that one of the most frustrating duties of a parent is to motivate their children. At least it is for us, when it comes to our teenage daughter. I have yet to figure out why there has been such a lacksidasical approach to life taken by my teenage daughter. One day I will figure it out, and hopefully she will snap out of this phase and get back to being the motivated go getter she has always been.
Unfortunately there is not a magic wand that you can buy or borrow to wave and make sure that your children are motivated to not only excel, but in some cases to just get up and do something. What I do have to offer is seven different tips or strategies that have been used and have been successful with our son, our daughter at one point and many other children whose parents I have talked with.
Tip 1: Encourage Children to Plan Their Own Projects
When children are in a social setting, or a setting outside of school it is an ideal time for them to explore new things and make choices about what it is they want to learn. Encouraging them to create, plan and execute their own projects gives them ownership of what they are doing. Ownership fosters excitement, and can increase the amount of effort they put into what they are doing. When you give them the opportunity to have input into what they are doing it helps them develop intrinsic motivation and helps cultivate problem solving skills.
Tip 2: Capitalize on “Teaching Moments” in Life
When you are doing something with your children, and you are leading them try to encourage risk taking, be a facilitator to what they want to do. The best way to figure out when they need the little extra push is by simply listening to them. You can also use failed activities as an opportunity to teach them by asking, what could you have done differently to make it a success.
Tip 3: Expect Them to Learn
Make sure that you have the expectation that your children need to learn. That you want them to learn. Be enthusiastic, accepting and warm all the while maintaining high expectations. Give your children feedback about their work, try to avoid being negative, be constructive and positive, and let them know what your expectations of them are.
Tip 4: Forget the Clock
Don’t limit your child’s learning activities to the clock. While you don’t want to give them all day, you don’t want to cut them short when they are really involved and excited about what they are learning. Provide them with long term, open ended projects. One of my favorites is homemade science experiments. Small children would enjoy planting a seed and watching a plant grow.
Tip 5: Create and Foster a Positive Physical Environment
Make sure that you have ample supplies to carry out projects that your children are involved in. Make sure that you have a “special” area designated and used for the project they are working on and that it is okay for them to leave their unfinished projects out.
Tip 6: Encourage Cooperative Work
When your child is working on a project, encourage them to involve siblings or friends. Recognize the benefits of doing group work.
Tip 7: Foster Family Participation
In our home, as a family we all go and cheer on one another in activities. It is not an option to go and see one of the siblings sporting events or school activities or other extracurricular activities. While growing up my husband and I did not have the support of our family when we were participating in different events, that was one thing we never wanted our children to experience. Having family there to support you is important. It gives you motivation to do better; it helps your child feel important. While for my husband and I, when we were younger we excelled because that was our natural drive, to be better, that isn’t the way everyone is wired. So support your children.
While these tips are very beneficial it is important to remember that there isn’t anyone strategy that is going to work for all children. Try a variety of different things, including helping them recognize the relationship between success and effort. Make sure that you focus on the positive, even if there comes a point where your child does not meet expectations. If you put them down, or are negative it could convince them that they can’t do something. Point out mistakes and then encourage them to correct them, and find better ways to accomplish something.
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