How to motivate your child in one simple stepToday’s “parent education” answer is a fabulous way to motivate any child or adult so keep listening even if today’s question isn’t reflective of your situation.
Today’s Question: “My son is quite smart and capable, but not motivated in school. He does his homework but forgets to turn it in. He could get top marks in his class but seems content with mediocrity. It bothers me that his grades don’t reflect what he’s capable of. How can I motivate my son to care more about his school performance?” JenLife Coaching answer: There is one simple thing parents can do to motivate their kids. There is also one thing that will BLOCK kid’s motivation that I think could become a problem for Jen here. Beware of attachment to ego. When kids are little it’s not unusual for their success to feel like our success. Someone tells us how cute or polite our pre-schooler is, we say thank you. When our kids act out in public, or bite some other kid on the playground, we feel embarrassed. The line between where they end and where we begin, is blurred. As they grow into their own person, it’s helpful to stop taking credit for their amazing-ness and stop blaming ourselves for their missteps, however tempting it may be. When our ego gets attached to their academic performance, their athletic performance, their drive or lack of it, we create a messy situation. Our ego will fight like crazy to stay in tact and often kids will sense our attachment to their success and deliberately sabotage themselves to take off the pressure and stay in control in their lives. When we can see them as a separate individuals, allowing them take credit for their successes AND failures, it keeps us sane. We have the privilege to guide our children but not steer their lives. Parent Educator answer: One day, I was on a road trip with my family, and my kids called from the backseat asking, “Mom, wanna play a game with us?” I responded, “No thank you, I’m enjoying reading my book.” “What book are you reading?” they asked? “Oh, it’s a fascinating book, I’m absolutely loving it. It’s all about play and how it shapes the brain, opens the imagination and invigorates the soul.” My astute kiddo responds, “So you would rather read a book about play than play a game with your children?” I pause with stunned realization, knowing the answer is yes, but also aware of how strange that answer sounded. I WOULD rather read about play! Why? What was motivating me to choose reading my book, over playing game? Luckily, Dr. Stuart Brown had the answer right in my hands. What motivates anyone to do anything is emotions. We are driven to seek pleasure and avoid pain. It sounds like Jen’s son doesn’t get enjoyment out of turning in his homework, or seeing gold stars posted on the sticker chart. Jen, on the other hand, does enjoy that. She sounds like she is motivated by accolades, competition and identifying herself as a high achiever. Emotions are crucial to motivation and the one simple step I’ve discovered to motivate kids, is to figure out what is their PLAY PERSONALITY. Dr. Stuart Brown identified 8 distinct play personalities. If you can figure out your child’s top 3 play personalities, you’ll have key insight into how to make things more fun, and therefore more motivating, for your child.
- The Joker – Play revolves around nonsense, practical jokes, pranks, silliness.
- The Kinesthete – If I’m not moving, it’s not play.
- The Explorer – Goes to new places, discovers, learns and understands new things.
- The Competitor – Enjoys competing and keeping score, plays to win.
- The Collector – Enjoys collecting objects or experiences (can be social or solitary)
- The Artist/Creator – Joy is found in making things.
- The Storyteller – Imagination is the key to play. Movies, dance, acting, reading, etc.
- The Director – Enjoys planning and executing scenes and events. Loves being in charge and in the center of the social world.
- Getting swept away into a novel or spending time in nature are play states.
- Attend a local cultural event for a holiday that is not one you are familiar with.
- Learn to play a new game or understand a new sport.
10 Powerful Questions
5 Questions every morning to give you clarity and intention.
5 Questions every evening to give you satisfaction and gratitude.
This is the best way to get you in the driver’s seat of your life.