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There are a lot of life skills every parent wants to teach their children—to be compassionate, to enjoy their lives, to be a generous person, and a whole host of other traits.
One of the key characteristics parents can help to instill in their children is motivation. Being motivated isn’t always easy, especially when you’re going through hard times, but you can teach it to children at a young age.
Here we’ll explore how to keep your child motivated for the future.
Don’t Rely on Reward Systems
It’s tempting to get a child to do what you want them to do by simply offering a reward. However, this can actually have a negative effect as the child comes to expect the reward. They’ll find ways to get it without doing the necessary steps to earn it first. Instead, point them towards the feeling of accomplishment and how it’ll be worth the effort of doing the work and getting the reward after.
Be a Source of Inspiration
Keeping your child motivated for the future means getting them to focus on intrinsic motivation— meaning they want to do the difficult thing just for the sake of having done it. This is difficult to do; no one can force this onto a child. Make yourself a source of inspiration and talk to your child about why you do the things you must. Show them how doing their tasks can be enjoyable just for the sake of having done them.
Don’t Let Them Be Stopped by Failure
Failure is a part of life, and keeping your child motivated for the future means teaching them that vital lesson. Shift the focus away from the failure itself and more on how good it was that they put the work in to do the task anyway. Being praised just for trying their hardest is beneficial. It tells them it’s okay to try new things and fail. After all, they can always get up and try again.
You’ve probably heard “just be there” for your children, but what exactly does that mean? The fact is, it would be impossible for most parents with jobs outside the home to be physically present all the time, and as we’ve mentioned above, it’s important for children to have space to explore and make their own decisions. When we say “be accessible”, we mean “make sure your child knows you will be there when they need you”. It sounds obvious, but the importance of being there for questions, advice, or simply a non-judgmental ear cannot be overstated.
Create a Structured Plan for Success Both Short- and Long-Term
It is a common understanding that children need structure, and the main source it comes from and can be reinforced by is a parent. Starting small – such as helping them create simple ‘to-do’ lists, sharing examples of your own lists for reference – can set your child on a path to organizing their success on a daily basis.
Help your child set monthly or even yearly goals that they can envision, track their progress toward, and achieve themselves (with encouragement from you, of course!). Highlight the big picture and then break down big goals into smaller manageable steps that can be celebrated as your child progresses.
Break Tasks into Manageable Pieces Using S.M.A.R.T acronym
S.M.A.R.T is an acronym that stands for:
S – SPECIFIC: Be specific about what you want to accomplish. Consider who needs to be involved, what you need to do, when you need to do it, any obstacles or requirements that stand in the way, and the reason why you are pursuing this goal.
M – MEASURABLE: Determine how you are going to measure progress across the period of time involved in achieving the goal, and how you know when the goal has been met.
A – ACHIEVABLE: Focus on how important the goal is to you and what you can do to make it attainable. Do you have the skills to attain the goal? If not, where and how can you learn them?
R – RELEVANT: How does this goal fit into ‘the grand plan’ or ‘the big picture’?
T – TIME-BOUND: Provide realistic target dates for achieving each step and the overall goal.
Encourage a Learning-Friendly Atmosphere
Be engaged with your child’s schooling, but don’t do it for them. Stay engaged with their teachers when appropriate. Small gestures like asking if they learned anything interesting at school go a long way, and parental interest at home can help stimulate a child’s mind, encourage them to think more deeply about what they’ve learned and combine it with positive emotion when discussing the topic with you. Utilize your child’s interest in the subject or topic in the learning process, encourage them to explore and find their own answers, and help guide them to foster their interests in learning.
Encourage Open Communication
A combination of factors like positive attitudes and reinforcement, parental support and accessibility, and encouraging an open atmosphere all to combine to promote open lines of communication between children and their parents. We know it can sometimes be a balancing act for parents to walk the line between interested and supportive vs. invasive and ‘helicopter parent’ status. Set an example for your child in the way you communicate with others: children are much more observant than you may think!
Appreciate Their Efforts
When your child does something they were supposed to do on their own, it’s crucial you let them know how proud that makes you. Children want to please their parents; knowing something they did on their own will reinforce them to do it even more. Focus your praise on the effort they put in or the growth they’ve gone through, rather than simply the outcome that you liked.