If you have children, you know how difficult it can be at times to get them to do the things they should. Between after school activities, video games, cell phones, and computers, motivating your kids to take care of their household chores and other responsibilities can be a real challenge. Here are a few tips on how to motivate your child effectively…
Not every method of motivation will work with your child. What works for one child may be detrimental to another, so it’s important to know your child’s personality in order to find the most effective way to motivate your child.
Here are a few things you can try to help motivate your child:
1. Kids love praise.
Your kids want your attention and praise. If they know that doing the things they’re supposed to do will bring them praise, they’re more likely to do those things. You’re their parent, and they want to make you proud.
By encouraging them and praising them frequently, you’re reinforcing good behavior.
2. Offer rewards (but avoid bribes).
Often, children are motivated by rewards. The rewards don’t have to be large or involve money.
You can reward your children by:
- Allowing technology time – my kids will do just about anything to earn the opportunity to watch a movie or play on their Kindle Fire devices!
- Spending time together – while it’s important to spend time with your kids outside of a “reward” scenario, if you’re headed to the store or on an errand, you can use that opportunity to spend one-on-one time with a child you might have otherwise left at home with your spouse or a babysitter.
- A special purchase – my kids LOVE the Usborne sticker books, and I like to keep a stash of them in my gift basket as a bigger reward for them (i.e. good grades, a new skill learned, a month of kindness shown towards their siblings, etc.).
All of these rewards are positive motivators for children. They’ll be much more eager to complete their assigned tasks and/or behave as expected if the reward is something they can look forward to.
3. Lead by example.
If your kids see you doing nothing all day long, they’ll feel as if it’s okay for them to do the same thing. Remember that your children are like a sponge, and they look up to you and want to emulate you.
- If you’re asking them to have a regular time of Bible reading and prayer before beginning the rest of their day, set the example by doing so yourself.
- If you want them to clean up after themselves, be sure to clean up after yourself.
- If you want them to be kind to one another, be sure to set the example of kindness, and be sure to acknowledge and apology when you fail to be kind.
4. Fear of negative consequences.
Every action and choice has a consequence. When your children don’t do the things they’re supposed to do (or do something they shouldn’t), you can teach them how their negative actions can have a negative impact on their lives and the lives of others.
Loss of privilege is a great consequence for poor decision-making or failure to set proper priorities (i.e. chores before play). Take something away for a short period and explain why you’re doing it and how they can earn it back.
Because my kids are fond of their technology time, we frequently use it as a “natural consequence” for motivating them:
Positive Consequence: If they prioritize correctly, they can earn technology time.
Negative Consequence: If they disobey, they can lose technology time.
This example of natural and logical consequences is essential preparation for adult life.
5. Encourage with Scripture.
We often refer to John 14:15 when encouraging our children to do what we’ve asked: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” We don’t do so in a manipulative way, but we explain to them that obedience is an expression of love, and just as we seek to show God our love through obedience, they ought also to do so by obeying us (Ephesians 6:1).
Love is a powerful motivator.
Motivating your children isn’t always easy.
As a parent, it’s your job to mold your children into caring, responsible, and respectful adults. While it may seem easier to parent passively and allow your children to be lazy, standing steadfast and finding new ways to motivate your kids is much more likely to help them become productive, responsible adults.
It takes dedication and consistency to provide the example and direction needed to build a child’s character.
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