MOTIVATING THE UNMOTIVATED CHILD
As parents, we often find hard to motivate our child to do something. Even worse, our attempts to motivate our child may be counterproductive and ineffective. The reality is we cannot make our child care just because we do. Trying to motivate our child may turn into a power struggle. As hard as it sounds, we cannot motivate another person to care. Ultimately, our child is responsible for her own choices. However, as a parent, our role is to inspire and influence.
Here are a few tips to get your child self-motivated:
1. Be inspiring. Ask yourself if you are trying to control or to inspire your child. Share with your child what you truly enjoy and what it brings you to do it. For instance, if you like running, playing piano, or dancing, tell her why you enjoy these activities. For chores, you may want to state that cleaning the house is not really fun, but when it is done, you feel good about having the house clean.
2. Let your child make her own choices and face the consequences. Unless it is unsafe, let your child decide for herself. If this is a poor choice, she will deal with its consequences. For instance, if your child chooses not to do her homework, then there will be no video games. It is essential to ask yourself “What do I put up with? What are my values and principles?” Once they are defined, stick to them.
3. Ask yourself these 4 questions:
What motivates my child? What does she really want? How can I help her find out and explore her interests? What are her goals and ambitions? In order to find responses to these questions, observe your child, listen to her, talk to her, and respect her answers even if you disagree.
4. Encourage self-motivation. As a parent, you want to influence your child so that she works towards the things she is interested in. The goal is to have her to do the right thing because she wants to. So, instead of asking her “Have you done your homework?”, you might want to ask “I have noticed you chose to do history today and yesterday you did geometry. I am interested in knowing why.” By investigating, exploring, and uncovering your child’s reasons behind her choices, you get to understand who she is and what her real motivations are. Over time, encourage her to keep making healthy choices that reflect who she is and what she wants to accomplish in life.
As a parent, you want to strengthen your child’s skills in defining what is important to her. You want to help your child define for herself who she is, what’s important to her and what she is going to do to make those things happen. Your responsibility is to help our child do that, not to do it for her. You need to stay out of her way enough so she can figure out who she is, what she thinks and where her own interests lie.
HOW TO RAISE INDEPENDENT CHILDREN
The ultimate goal of raising children is to make them independent. As children grow up, they need to learn how to make their own decisions based on who they are and what they want. From picking out their own clothes to choosing a college that suits them, every little decision they make, right or wrong, is a learning experience that helps them become independent adults.
Here are a few tips that can help your child embrace independence:
1.Teach responsibility. When your child has a clear understanding of what is expected from her, then it is easier to fulfill her responsibilities. Together, come up with a list of realistic expectations. Let her know what will happen if she does not do what she is supposed to. For instance, she may lose something of importance to her. Give her a chance to get it back by acting appropriately.
2. Encourage exploration. While parents need to make sure the child is safe, it is essential to allow her to explore her environment freely. This "push out of the nest" allows your child to test her own capabilities in the "real world" and to find a sense of competence, security, and independence within herself.
3. Show confidence in your child’s capabilities. View your child as a unique person and do not compare her to friends or siblings. Instead, focus on your child’s strengths and be supportive of her interests. When your child fails or makes a mistake, focus on solutions rather than retribution.
4. Promote problem solving. When a problem arises, it is an opportunity to come up with solutions. Resist the urge to jump in and to fix. Instead, ask open-ended questions. For instance, “How can you make sure you get up in time to catch the bus in the morning?”
5. Take time for training. Each week, encourage your child to learn something new in an engaging way. As a child learns new skills and tasks, she feels more confident in learning the next one. Who knows, she may even help you learn something new!
Parents’ responsibilities revolve primarily around providing your child with the opportunity and support to pursue her goals. Emotional support includes providing love, guidance, and encouragement in her efforts. Practical support includes ensuring that your child has the materials needed, proper instruction, and transportation, among other logistical concerns.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.