It can be a challenge to motivate yourself to do any number of things… but it can be even trickier trying to motivate your child, especially when it comes to education. Not many children come home from school and just can’t wait to do their homework. Fortunately, there are a few tricks to make motivation just a little bit easier.
Simple motivating tricks:
Stick to a routine. Routines are helpful for kids and adults, and having a predictable schedule helps relieve some stress from children.
Introduce different learning styles. Figure out which style, or combination of styles, helps your child learn or work the most efficiently.
Focus on learning, not grades. Prioritize your child’s understanding of the topic. Don’t be afraid to spend extra time looking at the topic, or trying different methods to solve the same type of problems. Once your child understands the topic, their grades will start to reflect that.
Take proper breaks. Working for more than 20-30 minutes at a time will lead to frustration for both you and your child. Encourage them to take a 5 minute break every 20 minutes to stretch, jump around, or have a snack. Once the 5 minutes is over, it should be a little easier to work.
What motivates your child?
Jennifer Nacif, a motivation expert and TEDx speaker, determined that there are four main motivations for children. Knowing which one is the most important to your child will not only help to motivate them, but to ease the daily homework struggle.
A dominant child wants to feel in-control of their situation. Allow them to make decisions about their work like which subject to start with, or the location where they work. If your child has a younger sibling, they might want to set a good example for a younger child that they know looks up to them.
A social child wants to feel connected to people, and to have fun. Try sitting with your child and doing work at the same time, or setting a timer and doing the same problems to see who can finish them first. You can also read books with silly words or rhymes to make reading more fun for them.
A patient child wants to feel safe and avoid conflict. These kids generally don’t work well under pressure, so threatening something like taking away TV time probably won’t be helpful. Stick to reasoning like, “I understand how frustrating it is for you to work on this subject, but if you work really hard and finish the whole page, you’ll feel so proud of yourself afterwards!”
The analytical child seeks knowledge and clarity. Analytical children love challenges, procedure, and structure. Routines will be extra important for these kids. You might try asking them to teach you the topic they are working on, or writing a list of steps to solve a math problem they think is challenging.
Try changing your language.
No matter what personality type your child has, try to avoid telling them they are smart. This might sound counterintuitive, but studies have shown that children who are labeled smart are less likely to risk making mistakes, and therefore miss out on learning opportunities. Making mistakes is a critical part of thinking and stimulating the brain.
Some great things to compliment your child on are their hard work, their creativity, or their skill. Since these are all things that can continue to improve, it creates a mindset that is open to challenges. When your child is faced with more difficult problems, they will be more likely to continue trying creative solutions, rather than give up after a few attempts.
Knowing what motivates your child is the most difficult step in learning how to motivate them. Trying different techniques, routines, and learning styles, along with learning about their personality type, will be a huge step in keeping your child motivated when it comes to education.1