How to Motivate Your Child…

by DanielaBaker on May 28, 2011

hockey boys of summer

hockey boys of summer

without comparing him or her to others

As a father, you have an important role in your children’s development. You can be a strong motivator when it comes to their intellectual, emotional and physical development.

Unfortunately, many dads go about motivating their kids in the wrong way. They are excited to help their children grow and rush in to the process without considering their words and actions. Often, they slip into comparing their child to others’ kids, not realizing that this can actually serve as a de-motivator.

If you’d like to help your child exceed but are unsure of what steps to take, here are some tactics you can use to motivate your kids without slipping into comparing them to others. These steps can be used to motivate your son or daughter for both school and extracurricular activities.

Model good behavior

Instead of telling your son to act more like the neighbors’ kids, show him the behavior you’d like to see by developing new habits for yourself. One important area you can focus on with your behavior is how you utilize your free time.
It’s highly recommended that you limit your inactive activities – like TV and movie watching – and increase your physical and intellectual activities. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents should limit their television time and choose appropriate programs that you would like your children to watch.

Set boundaries

It can be hard for your kids to be motivated to complete their homework or develop a new skill when they have the temptations of TV, video games and Internet. You can help take away those distractions by creating clear boundaries for your kids.

Provide your children with daily time limits for their electronic distractions. You may also want to set aside specific times that they are allowed to watch TV or play on the computer.

If your son or daughter has video games and TVs in their bedroom, you may want to explore moving them to other areas of the house. This is especially true if their bedroom is where they complete their homework and class projects.
Depending on the ages of your children, you may want to get them involved in creating the rules regarding entertainment. This will help get their buy-in from the start. They will also be motivated to show you that they can be responsible so they can work toward increasing their access to their electronics.

Have a heart to heart conversation

Dads are sometimes uncomfortable having one-on-one conversations with their children because they are unsure what to say. Take your son out for a snack and talk to them about the areas that you would love to see them exceed. Talk to him about what areas he currently struggles with and ask if he has any hesitations.
During your discussion you can devise a plan together on how he can tackle his homework and other areas that he needs motivation to complete. Compare each others’ expectations and explain to him why you expect certain behaviors from him.

You don’t have to be touchy-feely or flowery with your words. Just be real with your son and focus on making a connection with him. Your son will respond to this gesture of connection and will want to work hard to make you proud.

Do it together

If you’re hoping your kids will develop new hobbies and interests, you can motivate them by doing the activity together. If you’d like him or her to develop musical skills, enroll in piano or guitar classes together. If you’d like to see them involved in a physical activity, help them develop their athletic skills. If you are doing a group class, be sure to praise your kids for what aspects they are excelling at instead of using comparisons of them and others in the class.

Give an incentive

Many kids respond well to incentive systems. You don’t need to be elaborate with your rewards. Just focus on one or two things your son or daughter would like to do. This is something you can plan together so you can ensure the incentive is something that will motivate your children.

Once the two of you decide the terms of the incentive (what actions need to be completed to earn the reward). Remember to remind him about the incentive. Post a reminder on the refrigerator, their bedroom or bathroom door and in their school bag. Keeping it at the forefront of his mind will keep him excited and get him to work toward the goal.

When setting the goal, make sure it’s a goal that focuses solely on your son and his performance instead of comparing him to other children. For example, instead of saying you’ll take your daughter to mini golf if she gets the highest score in the class, you can say you’ll take her out if she gets a certain score on her test or if she turns in all of her homework on time for a month.

Daniela Baker is a social media advocate at CreditDonkey.

She blogs about credit cards and personal finance. Dads, read our latest article on the top 10 mistakes moms make.

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