The question of how to motivate kids seems to be a common one in recent years. Kids have every convenience imaginable, and this has led some of them to lose interest in being challenged. Many kids lack the satisfaction of accomplishment because they do not have to work very hard for everyday successes. They are so accustomed to fast resolutions and unrealistic outcomes that when life does offer significant challenges, they sometimes lack the ability to stay focused on a goal. When their problems demand serious effort and time, they have often been conditioned by computers, cell phones, television, and movies to expect quick solutions. It is understandable that they cannot stay motivated long enough to keep trying.
Positive reinforcement has always been an important tool for the question of how to motivate kids. Children learn valuable life lessons as a result of positive and negative feedback. They need to know that they are capable and lovable. When these messages are clear, they feel that they can at least try. When parents and teachers reward children for their positive behavior, rather than focus on their negative acts, kids get the message that it is better to keep trying hard and working productively. This leads to the question of incentives and rewards. Parents who want to know how to motivate kids sometimes turn to monetary rewards or expensive gifts to keep their kids going. This can sometimes be counter-productive because children can quickly become conditioned to give an effort only when there is a tangible reward in their future. On the other hand, when rewards are given when they are not expected, children learn that a job well-done sometimes comes with a bonus. Parents should carefully weigh the pros and cons of automatically giving kids rewards to motivate them.
When considering the idea of how to motivate kids, it is important to understand the importance of realistic expectations. Setting the bar high is good because it teaches kids the importance of striving for something noteworthy. However, parents should think realistically about their kids’ abilities and natural talents before they impose harsh and unattainable standards. If a child has average intelligence and puts forth an honest effort in school, his parents would be wise to applaud his efforts instead of questioning why he did not do better. Children should be challenged, but the challenges should be realistic. Praise is critical. Children who are praised for their small triumphs are usually motivated to attempt harder tasks and reach for higher goals. Parental attendance at sporting events, school programs, and music recitals gives kids the message that their activities and efforts are as important as anything else their parents may have going on in their lives. Children constantly need to be built up through words and actions. The parents who most successfully answer the question of how to motivate kids are generally those who serve as positive role models.
Kids are smart, and they almost always realize when parents tell them to behave a certain way, but then live a different standard. Parents who have a strong personal work ethic do more to motivate their children to work hard than those who are lazy and refuse to give life much effort. Parents who show excitement for their children’s interests can provide a critical service in their children’s lives. When parents get excited over a rudimentary drawing, it gives the child the message that he should keep drawing. Kids need someone in their corner, and this means that parents also need to teach their children how to deal with failure and disappointment. This can be very challenging, and parents can sometimes lose a valuable teaching moment if they try to buy their children’s happiness instead of teaching them to cope.