As we approach the final quarter of the school year, most of us are tired. Students, teachers, parents, we are all trying to just make it to the end of the year. But what about finishing well? We are in the final stretch of the school year marathon and we need to sprint not crawl. How can we motivate our child to finish well?
The first thing we need to do when processing motivating our children to do something is ask ourselves “why?” Is this an area that they need to be motivated in for their future success? Is it something that will better their character? Or is it something that really only makes us feel like a successful parent. If we are talking about finishing the school year strong, the answer is yes. This is the perfect time to help our kids learn that we finish what we start; we get up and go to work or school even when we don’t feel like it. We do need to have realistic expectations for our children/teens, though. We need to keep in mind the pressures on our kids. Finishing the school year strong with finals, sports, church and end of the school year activities can be overwhelming, and we are ALL tired! So here is a basic checklist to look at if your child is really struggling with motivation beyond what is normal for the end of a school year… These are all things that we as parents can do. The first three are questions to ask yourself before proceeding. And these can be applied anytime a child is struggling with motivation not just the end of the year.
The first question is, has anything changed in my child’s life recently? Process from your child’s point of view, things like a move, the birth of a sibling, or even things going on with you as a parent that your child can pick up on. It may be as simple as having a conversation with your child explaining things or communicating that you know that things are different for them at the moment but you are there supporting them.
The second question is, how is the relationship? Ask yourself, does my child always feel that I’m proud of them, or does my praise focus on one sibling more than another, or am I only praising performance? Spend some time processing how you can consistently communicate that you are proud of your child.
Thirdly ask, why are we in this hole? Do I need to do a better job teaching my child time management or can I simply spend some extra time helping my child with this subject? Often times this is all that is needed for extra help with schoolwork. If you feel that this is not the case, like we have said earlier, spending time with your child’s teacher should give valuable insight into what is going on in the classroom.
The next three steps to motivating our children are easy actions that we can take. The fourth step is be sure to cheer effort. Our cheering need to not be solely outcome based. They may not have gotten an A on that book report they spent so much time on but be sure to praise the hard work they put in!
The fifth step to motivation is to constantly encourage. When your child is in the midst of working through something we can be their constant cheerleaders. “I know you can do this!” or “you are doing a great job,” should be a constant mantra. Our children’s belief in themselves comes from our belief in them!
Lastly something that can help your child is to know how you came through a personal hardship or failure. There may be some stories from your own life, currently or past, that may encourage them that they can get through this time. It is great for our children to know that we are not perfect. How we handle our mistake or hardships can be a testament to sticking with it!
Our biggest take away is that our focus should be more on being a child’s cheerleader rather than punisher when it comes to motivation. Yes, there should be consequences for not making the right choices, but most people are driven by encouragement and “you’ve got this” rather than “if you don’t then ‘this’ will happen.” As, always be a student of each one of your children. Each one of us are driven and motivated by different things. As we finish this school year, cheer on those kids!!
Visit parentingonpurpose.org for more advice from Dr. Bob Barnes and Torrey Roberts.