It’s easy for us to look at our child’s lack of enthusiasm and question it. Yet, we too can use some motivation in life. For some kids, it is normal to lose interest in homeschool and other routines in life, but you can learn how to help your child stay motivated.
The first thing to do is to know that being unmotivated at times is quite normal.
If all kids in homeschool were motivated by their own free will, then everyone would homeschool. If even lazy kids could motivate themselves to play sports, then all kids would join a sport and stick to it. Even kids who love the sport they play can get complacent at times.
Even the mom who loves the idea of homeschooling could use some motivation at times. That is where we start – realizing that unmotivated kids don’t have to stay unmotivated. It surely doesn’t mean you have failed as a parent.
This behavior just means that we need to take action to help encourage our kids, and they need to learn to self-motivate in preparation for real-life situations as they grow into adulthood.
How can we get our kids to do their best?
This is tough. You know, we can’t expect perfection from our kids. However, since we are training them in the way they should go, some standards should be in place.
Until your kids are used to the standards, we can help them through their reluctance to do work – any type of work. Trust that this will continue to motivate them long after they leave your home.
1. Motivate the right thing.
Don’t praise innate abilities over hard work and effort. Many resources I have read state to praise a child’s accomplishments.
I say praise them in a way that doesn’t only praise accomplishments but also praises them in the effort they put in. Whether they win or lose, point out their effort. Be specific if you can.
Winning is not everything. In fact, in losing or failing, people have learned the most significant lessons and improved on ideas, experiments, and decisions.
If your child wins a sports game, rejoice with his win but point out how he and his team worked so hard in practice which allowed him to do so well. If your child wins a dance contest, praise the practice it took to do well, or the bravery it actually took to perform in front of a crowd.
See, you can praise the EXACT same things when a child loses but does their very best.
When you praise innate or God-given talents (not giving glory to God for them) you make them wonder what happens if their talent is gone. So praise the work and praise the Lord.
2. Allow the consequences of their actions.
Don’t save your kids from consequences—something they need to learn for themselves the hard way.
Let go of control. This is a tough one, moms and dads, I know.
Being controlling and overbearing in how we try to “motivate” our kids just doesn’t work.
These mannerisms, as a parent, only cause rebellion. Trying to motivate your child with anger, with frustration or in an attitude of annoyance, does more harm than good.
If your child makes the wrong decision, then let them face their consequence without condemnation from you.
For example, my daughter didn’t do the dishes one night. The next day the dishes piled up. She had to do double the dishes.
I could have certainly disciplined her for skipping a chore. Yet, she learned her consequence by doing the extra work.
3. Steer clear of bribes long term.
I call them bribes, but you know what I mean – the rewards and money for chores—that type of stuff.
I don’t have an issue using these tools for a short period. For instance, it can be used as a challenge at home, like competing with their siblings for who does their chores without forgetting any for a week.
Long term effects of external rewards can be detrimental for you and them. Have you ever heard a child tell their parent after they have been asked to do something, “How much are you going to pay me?” I had actually heard that before, and it irked my soul.
In life, you may not get a reward for your hard work except that you did what was right, especially in God’s eyes.
You can’t teach that if your child s solely motivated to do something based on what he or she will get in return. Stop doing that.
4. Encourage your child to make choices and find answers to questions on their own.
When you encourage your kids to make some of their own choices and solve their own problems, you are building their independence and autonomy.
You can’t put a price tag on these things.
When my kids ask me what a word means, I don’t answer them any more. I just encourage them to look for the definition online, and then tell me what they found.
When kids squabble, sit and talk with them. Ask them how they could have reacted better. When they do choose to behave better in the future, make sure you tell them when you see their efforts.
Allowing kids to make their own choices, can start small… For instance, I allowed my daughter to pick out her clothes when we didn’t have a special event to go to.
I mean, this was when she was five years old. I did this because I want her to be her own person and not be ashamed to be herself. This meant that she wore rainbow colors everywhere and wore tutus in public, in just about any color.
That was OK because now she doesn’t care to follow trends, and we have fantastic memories captured in photos of her colorful outfits.
5. Let love be your primary motivator – kids can tell if it isn’t.
Listen, moms and dads, kids are part of our home. They are important and contribute to the household. They are loved not only because they are your child, but also because they are a part of your family unit.
We couldn’t do life without them. When we want them to do well in school (to be a doctor or encourage them to play sports because you want a new car), kids know.
I used to joke around about these very things with my kids. I don’t think it’s funny anymore. I don’t want them to have that pressure. I want them to be motivated because they want to do better. After all, there is a world out there needing them to make a difference.
Showing them our love will foster that motivation in their hearts.
Grab these simple, FREE printable and resources to help your child stay motivated at home, and as they grow:
The Ultimate List of Free Growth Mindset Printables For Kids and Adults | Bits of Positivity
Student Awards Distance Learning | Think Grow Giggle
Growth Mindset FREE Bookmarks- Print And Color | The Kitchen Table Classroom
Reading Tracker Fun for Kids with FREE Printable Punchcards | Rock Your Homeschool
Quick-Start Drama FREE Homework Guide | Drama FREE Homework
FREEBIE: Motivational Posters | ABC with Mrs. B
Motivating a Reluctant Reader with FREE Printable | Raising the ExtraOrdinary
Important FREE Word Cards: Reading Motivators: Personalized Reference | The Teacher Post
How a Simple Sharpie Can Make Your Kids WANT to Learn | Homeschool to Homeschool
Sometimes, as adults, we surely can be unmotivated. However, we don’t have a choice. We have to get things done. We have to pay bills, or clean up and cook. The same way we motivate ourselves is how we should treat our kids.
Make the motivating factors meaningful and real. Praise them for their hard work and effort. Allow them to fail and face their consequences. It builds character that is motivated by results.
Do not use rewards as a clutch. The benefits are few, and you enable a child only motivated by what they can gain extrinsically.
Help your child’s curiosity and develop their autonomous capabilities by allowing them to find answers on their own and the ability to make choices on everyday things to build confidence.
And finally, show them you love them by not spoiling them. If children get everything they want, how do they know what it’s like to work hard for what they want as adults?
Jeannette is a wife, mother and homeschooling mom. She has been mightily, saved by grace and is grateful for God’s sovereignty throughout her life’s journey. She has a Bachelor in English Education and her MBA. Jeannette is bi-lingual and currently lives in the Tongan Islands of the South Pacific. She posts daily freebies for homeschoolers!
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