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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


How to Motivate Children to Achieve - Catalyzing an Internal Urge to Succeed in Life

By Andrew Loh

The main goal of boosting motivation among children is to help them perform better in their classroom studies and later achieve unlimited success both in professional and personal life. An appropriate level of motivation would lead to an optimal brain growth and development. Children should develop intrinsic motivation to achieve success and satisfaction in life. A majority of children often develop an extrinsic type of motivation that demands external rewards from external sources like parents and teachers. Externally influenced motivation is not permanent, and it lasts just for moments because the mind seeks constant supply of rewards from entities that asked children to do some work.

Note: Children should develop their own and internally developed and sustained motivation to carry out any tasks. They should not do any work because it brings praise and rewards from their parents.

In almost all cases of parenting, difficulties usually crop up when parents supply external rewards and motivation instead of helping their children develop internal motivation. All external rewards always replace internal satisfaction and sense of achievement. External rewards may come in the form of candy, sweets, ice cream, money, praise or a promise to allow children to watch their favorite cartoon show. External rewards lead to dissipation in existing motivational levels in children, a slow destruction in self-image and self-esteem.

You can deploy several strategies and techniques to help children develop intrinsic motivation. Here are some of them:

  • Allow children to explore their skills and talents by providing an ambiance of adventure, thrill and excitement. This would assist them develop freethinking and cause/effect relationship.

  • Teach the character of persistence by giving more time to work on assigned tasks. Monitor their progress by asking them probing questions from time to time. However, do not interrupt unnecessarily to disturb their concentration and work flow.

  • Allow them to develop the concept of independent thinking. Let your children be children and do not curtail their playtime unless it is needed. Let the playtime be unorganized and unstructured to allow your children develop independent play activities.

  • Children should be given many options and choices to streamline their learning process. Let children choose the activity of choice and try to work on it.

  • Soon after finishing a successful task, ask your children questions like “What did you feel when you finished doing that job”, “Did you feel satisfaction of doing a good job?” or “What do you feel when you finish such tasks on your own and without me telling you to do it”.

  • Excitement and thrill are viral and infectious! Children should develop a deep enthusiasm to work on any task given by your or their teachers. Unlimited excitement spreads like a colony of viruses and your children should be able to continue with the same level of enthusiasm until the task is finished successfully.

  • Provide enough freedom for your children to express their opinions and feelings. You should try to know whether they are facing any internal problem that is related to decision making and choosing options.

  • Children should try to learn new things and explore new vistas. This will also help them become independent and learn by doing with self-effort and self-initiative.

What are creative rewards?

Unnecessary rewards and praises are detrimental to children. Create a strategy of handing rewards based on some specific indicators. Here are some useful strategies to hand out rewards to children based on their behavior and performance:

Note: Let your children earn their rewards. Any reward, given to your children, should be based on their attitude to behavior and work.

Attitude may include characters like politeness, kindness, cooperation, complaisance with your instruction, work ethics and accepting challenges. On the other hand, behavioral characters may include working on a task to its completion, timeliness, correctness and dedication to work. Make sure that you give rewards only once in a week. Always give rewards in kind and not in cash. Let children take a new challenge every week and show you the result. As soon as project or task is finished, note it down in a book, and show the entry to children to motivate them to work on the next. Convene a weekend meeting and announce results in front of your children. Tell them why working on their own is a better alternative than seeking a favor from you.

Motivation in children is an inbuilt mechanism to achieve specific goals and objectives. Mostly, children should be responsible to their own actions and mindset to boost motivation to higher levels. Some children are gifted and they possess an extraordinarily higher level of motivation. On the other hand, many other children need consistent prodding and pushing to work on their tasks, homework assignments and projects. With a proper approach and a result-oriented strategy, parents may boost motivation in their children.

Featured Resource

Drive: 9 Ways to Motivate Your Kids to Achieve
By Janine Walker Caffrey, Ed.D

Dr. Janine Walker Caffrey is the author of Drive: 9 Ways to Motivate Your Kids to Achieve. She believes that parenting should be relatively simple, and a whole lot of fun! She learned how to develop drive through her experiences raising her own two children who are now highly driven adults. She holds a bachelor's degree in education, a master's in educational administration, and a doctorate in educational leadership.

The quality of drive provides the momentum for a person to dream and achieve, creating a unique, independent life. Without it, a person is like a rudderless boat, drifting around a flat lake. In Drive, nationally renowned educator Dr. Janine Caffrey shows how to inspire your children and develop this vital characteristic.


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