Prompting Motivation.. in a child.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Do you have a child who doesn’t want to accept something?

Do you want your child to do something but they really don’t want to?

Do you want your child to be motivated about something but they really don’t see the point? 

There are times when action needs to be taken:

A child may complain once or twice about something (it may be music practice, sports practice, homework or learning) but if after complaining they can get on with it, it is probably a good sign that the issue may resolve itself with time and not need any intervention. 

A child may complain all the time about the same thing and it affects any discussion or they refuse to discuss anything to do with the problem or task. This is when it may be necessary to It may be time to think about taking action.

A child complains all the time, uses strong negative language and it is affecting their participation in or performance in the task. It’s time to take action. 

TIPS to taking action and getting your child on board with a decision or motivated to follow through with a decision. 

  1. Don’t threaten them with the decision.  “You have to see someone because YOU aren’t coping or improving and YOUR attitude is terrible”  rather try to use non threatening language and acknowledge the difficulties they may be experiencing, “I hear what you’re saying about having difficulty understanding your teacher.  There are other options.” Use language that sounds like you want to help. “Somethings don’t get fixed by themselves and I don’t like to see you struggle.” “It may help to get a tutor, I don’t really know what a tutor can do but maybe we can meet one just for you to chat to.” “Wouldn’t it be a good feeling to improve in this area.”   
  2. Do try to explain what you think the benefits of a decision could be.  Be patient it could take a couple of weeks for them to come to terms with trying/trialling something.
  3. Give options, offer your child choices.  This is a key factor to getting a child motivated.  Nothing is worse than feeling forced.  By offering a child a choice, they feel empowered and are more likely to have a positive feeling going with their decision and commitment for follow through will be higher.  You will see in the story below how this was done. There are many ways to offer choice to children.  Even if it is just choice of time.
  4. Always give more options, an exit strategy which can be a measurable timeframe, outcome or expectation.  Again there is an example in the story below. 
  5. Always be positive and sure and confident about your decision. If you aren’t sure, they aren’t going to go along with it. If they do decide to go with the new action and try something different use  “imagine if ..’ statements to visualise what positive outcomes their decision could bring. 
  6. Praise them for making the difficult decision and for putting the effort in. 



My son, who has just started high school this year, is really not enjoying a subject at school. It started by the second class he had in this subject.  
He complained about his teacher.  He complained that he can’t understand her when she speaks. He complains that he just has to copy from a book or off the board for most of the subject. He complains, groans and moans about this subject anytime he sees it on his school timetable.  
Over two terms, it’s developed from just complaining, to him saying “I hate this subject, I hate it!” “I don’t see the point in this subject, it’s so dumb.” “I just want to drop this subject.” 
His marks in the tests are okay but no where near where his marks are in other subjects.  

Over the past two terms we told him (sometimes what we want to do to help actually may be heard by our child as a threat) we’ll get him a tutor. He was not open to discussing getting a tutor for in his words “a stupid subject, why bother?”

Two weeks ago, I had reached that point of taking action.  My son was not only complaining but developing a negative mindset and having difficulty learning in that subject.  My action was finally to make contact with a couple of tutors.  

I emailed two tutors and explained what I was looking for briefly.  The tutors got back to me and I told them I would like my son to meet with them first so he could choose who he wants to work with. I also wanted them to explain to my son what he could expect from tutoring. They agreed.  
Only at this time did I tell my son. 
I told him that he could meet with a tutor on Thursday or Friday afternoon (he had the choice of which day).  I booked in for the one I liked the most and kept the second tutor as a backup. 
Before going to meet the tutor I assured my son that there was no commitment! It was just a 20 minute meeting, so he could hear what the person could do for him and just see what she was like. All he had to do was meet them, he did not have to go to tutoring after that if he did not want to.   

I did explain to him that there were two possible tutors and that I was taking him to this one because she is a teacher and the other was a male uni student so he could meet with the male at another time if he wanted (again another choice).

He got himself ready that afternoon of the meeting.  He took along his book and met the tutor.  The tutor was totally different to his current teacher, she is young and speaks clearly.  The tutor sat and listened to his complaints and looked at what he wanted to show her and what he has been doing.  She acknowledged that there was a lot of writing and explained what she had done for her students.  

My son left that appointment with a two hour tutoring session booked.  
I thanked him for at least taking the first step to meet her and how proud I was that he got himself prepared for the meeting.  I also acknowledged and thanked him for wanting to give it a try. We spoke about giving it a try and doing a few sessions and see if his test marks improve. (There is a measurable).  We spoke about what he liked about the tutor (reinforcing his decision), “I think you have made a good choice”.  We also joked about what would happen if the marks improved because of the tutoring, “Imagine if..” 

He is finally excited and he said “I can’t wait to love this subject.”

I'm imagining a positive follow up to this story so look out for it in the coming weeks!






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