Building motivated children
Early on, right from the prekindergarten years or maybe even before that, if we started training our little ones to be motivated learners, the kids would grow up to be self-assured adults and probably be successful too.
Do you have to often remind your kids to do homework? Does he/she have to be repetitively asked to practice piano? Anything related to school or educational development is always a challenge? Well, you are not alone. Most mothers would complain of the same issues. One thing common though is, that these are the signs of an unmotivated learner. We may not realize it, but possibly it’s our style of parenting that has lead to they being not enthused to learning or towards continuous improvement.
One thing that is a key to raising self-motivated learners is to reward and praise effort and not the outcome.
Albert Einstein, one of the smartest people ever to be born also once said -“It’s not that I’m so smart, It’s just that I stay with problems longer.” If, even for Einstein it was the perseverance and constant hard work that was the key to his success –then that is true for all of us. We should be praising the effort the kids put in something, be it schoolwork or extra curricular. Instead of telling him how smart he is, try telling him how you appreciate the hard work he puts in his work. Try to not compare him with other kids. Compare him only to his work, he should be in competition with himself –trying to do better the next time, continuously improving. If this becomes the case, then the child will start enjoying the process of learning and getting better and you would have successfully raised a life-long learner.
Have your kids set goals for themselves.
It is very important to empower the kids in setting their own goals- the idea is to make them accountable to their success or failures. But what you could help them in defining and making specific goals. For e.g. if the kid says he wants to do well and score better grades-ask him what doing well means –he might say it means getting “A’s or “B”s in all subjects. Abstract goals are useless; it is specific goals that lead to results. Have your kids write down his goals. Studies and research have proved that once you have the goals written, chances to achieve them are much higher.
While writing down goals are important, the steps to achieve them also are extremely necessary.
It is advised to jot down the steps that will be needed to fulfill the goals. For e.g. if the kid has put down his goal as getting “A” in all subjects-ask him what will be required to achieve “A”. Maybe it will be extra 20 minutes in solving math problems or practicing piano every day – put these steps down against the goal. This helps in taking control of the situation and also proactively working towards the goals.
In spite of setting goals and defining the steps to achieve the goals sometimes, there could still be failures or undesired results.
It is a the duty of the parents to tell the kids that it is totally alright to not have desired results sometimes, because that’s life. Maybe, then it is time to review the steps and goals and see if some other strategy would work out better. Kids need to learn from early on that it is all right to make mistakes and fail. Failure is just a part of life. Disappointments and failures teaches many more lessons than success ever will. The kid needs to feel secure though, that you, as a parent will not be mad if he failed. As a parent, you have to see that the child puts all the effort that he can put, and eventually success will happen. Bear in mind that the kids also want to do well. They don’t want to fail on purpose. We as parents have to give them the right tools and show them the path towards learning.
Don’t try to demand success from the kids, demand hard work-success will follow. Raising motivated learners is a key to success.