6 WAYS to mo­ti­vate your kids

shares her ad­vice on keep­ing kids mo­ti­vated.

Parenting - - Front Page - Diane Levy Hannah Dick­son

The chances are that by the time you be­come a par­ent, you’ve had enough bosses dur­ing your ca­reer to be able to in­stantly re­call your best and worst ones. The ones that en­cour­aged you and gave you the con­fi­dence to achieve in your role are likely at the top of your favourites list, while the ones who mi­cro­man­aged and couldn’t com­mu­ni­cate well are prob­a­bly at the bot­tom. The same mo­ti­va­tion tech­niques that are suc­cess­ful in the work­place, are a great way to en­cour­age your chil­dren.

You don’t of­ten hear Diane Levy talk­ing about the neg­a­tive, but some­times, she says, you need to check out the flip­side. If you’re look­ing for ways to mo­ti­vate your chil­dren, you also need to look at the ways you may, in­ad­ver­tently, be de­mo­ti­vat­ing them – just like that an­noy­ing boss.

Here are Diane’s top ways to mo­ti­vate your chil­dren (with an ac­knowl­edge­ment of some of the things we do that may be hin­der­ing them from achiev­ing their very best).

1. First, know your child

Be­fore we can in­flu­ence them, it is im­por­tant that our chil­dren be­lieve we understand where they are com­ing from. “Mum and Dad get me,” is one of the most mo­ti­vat­ing feel­ings they can have.

If you understand them, you can start where they are at. Jump ahead of their emo­tional, phys­i­cal or aca­demic level and you will lose their in­ter­est and co­op­er­a­tion very quickly.

Some chil­dren will watch the All Blacks play and say, “I’m go­ing to do that one day.” Oth­ers will think, “That looks really hard. I’ll never be that good – why should I even start?” The trick is un­der­stand­ing your child’s per­son­al­ity, so you can en­cour­age them in a way that makes sense to them. Your peacelov­ing child will need some­one who can sit along­side them while they ob­serve, and your fun-lov­ing child will need a per­sonal cheerleader.

The trick is un­der­stand­ing your child’s per­son­al­ity‚ so you can en­cour­age them in a way that makes sense to them.

2. Man­age­able bites

If you are stand­ing at the bot­tom of a cliff and want to get to the top but you can’t see any way up, why would you start? If some­thing looks too hard, it’s easy for chil­dren to be de­mo­ti­vated. If, on the other hand, you can see the lad­der and see that the rungs are a size your lit­tle legs can man­age, then you can think about start­ing.

Break­ing things up into man­age­able bites is a great way to in­tro­duce chil­dren to new ex­pe­ri­ences. If a child turns up to swim­ming lessons for the first time and sees peo­ple splash­ing around, swim­ming from one end to the other when they can’t even put their head un­der wa­ter, they are likely to feel over­whelmed and not want to get in. There’s the op­tion of forc­ing them in, kick­ing and scream­ing – but that’s highly un­likely to be a mo­ti­va­tor. Break it into man­age­able bites. First blow bub­bles in a cup of wa­ter, then in a shal­low bath, and so on.

Chil­dren will al­ways re­act in dif­fer­ent ways to one an­other. If they’re a joiner, they may run straight onto the field for their first soc­cer train­ing ses­sion. Oth­ers may need to watch from the side­line for a while. Drop­ping them in too quickly will de­mo­ti­vate them. You need to let them watch, and think, and imag­ine how they will fit into the sit­u­a­tion.

3. Speak adult to adult (whilst ac­knowl­edg­ing they are chil­dren)

Yes, they are lit­tle, but when there is some­thing they need to learn to do, even if it’s some­thing they don’t feel like do­ing, there’s a lot to be said for sit­ting down and hav­ing a mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion and chat­ting as you would to an adult. “I know this is some­thing you are not keen on, but we need to work on get­ting your maths done. Firstly, you’ll need it as a grown-up, but you also need it so you will feel okay in class. When the class is do­ing mul­ti­pli­ca­tion, you need to be able to keep up. That’s why we are go­ing to lis­ten to the times ta­ble CD ev­ery morn­ing in the car on the way to school.”

There is a big dif­fer­ence be­tween do­ing this and giv­ing them a lec­ture. It has some­thing to do with sit­ting along­side them and giv­ing a log­i­cal rea­son for why they might have to try and do some­thing they may not feel like do­ing.

4. Es­tab­lish struc­ture

As their lives get busier, and there are more things we need our chil­dren to be com­pe­tent at, it helps to in­tro­duce struc­ture. Some will be happy mov­ing seam­lessly from one thing to the next, but oth­ers need to know how the day and week are shap­ing up. If you have a chart or a list of things that need to be done, it opens the way for a con­ver­sa­tion about how you are go­ing to ap­proach the things that aren’t very pop­u­lar. Give them some choice and con­trol. “Okay, here are the things you don’t mind do­ing, and here are the things you aren’t so keen on, but have to do. Are you the kind of per­son who likes to do all their least favourite things first, or are you the kind of per­son who likes to alternate be­tween one thing you like and one thing you don’t?” They still have to do the things they don’t want to do, but you are be­ing re­spect­ful and sup­port­ive.

5. Check their ex­haus­tion lev­els

Have you ever no­ticed how some­times you send a nine year old off to school, but a three year old comes home? When chil­dren are ex­hausted, there’s of­ten a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence be­tween their emo­tional age and their chrono­log­i­cal age. You can’t give the three year old the nine year old’s sched­ule. They may nor­mally be able to do their home­work as soon as they get home from school, but if they are a tired, cranky three year old in a nine-yearold body, they may need to blob out and recharge first.

Of­ten as par­ents, we are so driven to get things done that we can find our­selves bat­tling with an ex­hausted child – that’s de­mo­ti­vat­ing. Recog­nise it as a sign to re­group and recharge.

6. Con­sider their ca­pa­bil­i­ties

If a child is strug­gling with school­work, it's help­ful to ask – is there a gap be­tween what the class has learned and what your child has un­der­stood, or is there a learn­ing is­sue that needs to be ad­dressed? If what they are do­ing is too hard or bor­ing, it will be im­pos­si­ble to keep a child mo­ti­vated. It’s our job to keep an eye out for this and see how we can help and sup­port them. What is it that they need from us, both short-term and long-term, that will en­able them to cope with the task that ap­pears over­whelm­ing to them?

It is the joy of mas­tery that is ul­ti­mately mo­ti­vat­ing.

Have you ever no­ticed how some­times you send a nine year old off to school‚ but a three year old comes home?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.