Putting your children in the best position to succeed through good education is important. But, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will take advantage of that position. Even the best education in the world won’t make much of a difference if your child simply isn’t motivated to learn.
Motivation is something that a lot of students struggle with – and that a lot of parents struggle to provide. Fortunately, there are a few different ways that you can instill motivation into your children.
Why Aren’t All Students Motivated to Learn?
Some parents have a difficult time understanding why their children aren’t motivated to do well in school, especially if they’re smart and have demonstrated the intellectual capacity to succeed.
What you’ll notice is that they will be motivated in the activities that they enjoy doing. Some students do well in school because they enjoy learning the material that they are studying. For those who don’t have an interest in particular subjects, they aren’t motivated to learn it or do the work required for those courses. In basic terms, they want to do what they like to do, they don’t want to do what they don’t like doing.
This may seem obvious, but adults tend to work differently. An adult will often have the motivation to do things they don’t like doing because of the real world benefits and consequences. For example, you may not enjoy doing your job, but you’re motivated to do it in order to keep a roof over your head and to feed your family.
So how exactly can you motivate your children to work hard at something they obviously don’t enjoy doing? There are two main methods that you can employ – intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. However, you should understand that different types of students react differently to different methods of motivation.
Extrinsic motivation is probably the most commonly used method by parents. While it can be effective, it can also be counterintuitive depending on the student. Extrinsic motivation involves getting your child to do better for you.
This can be done through the power of persuasion, such as by appealing to their understanding. For example, explaining to your child that if they do well, they’ll get into a better college, which will open up more opportunities as an adult.
This can be enough to motivate some students. However, children generally don’t worry about the future nearly as much as adults – they are more concerned with the here-and-now, and in some cases, the last thing they want to do is spend time on something they don’t want to do here or now.
In fact, it can backfire if you attempt this motivational approach too often – your children can become annoyed at the lecturing and even insulted if they perceive your efforts to be patronizing or overly critical.
Another form of extrinsic motivation that many parents will attempt if their powers of persuasion fail is to provide an incentive. For example, offering a reward for achieving a certain grade.
Parents may turn to this method because it’s the one that motivates them in their adult life. For example, one of the reasons you might be motivated to work hard at a job you don’t like is because you might get promoted, which could result in more money.
However, if your child doesn’t meet the objective you’ve set, they could perceive the incentive as a punishment since you’re withholding the reward from them. This can breed resentment, which in turn could end up motivating them not to work harder.
Intrinsic motivation may work better because it generates motivation within your child instead of via external pressure. It’s about getting your child to do better for themselves. To use intrinsic motivation, you have to avoid taking ownership of any motivation your child develops.
One form of intrinsic motivation could be to take your child to different college campuses and allow them to talk to the admissions officers on their own. There, they may learn about what it takes to get into the schools they are interested in. If they like what they see, this may be motivation enough for them to begin working harder.
Motivating Your High School Children
Motivated children to take their education seriously can be extremely challenging at times. In most cases, it’s best to try using some combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Just remember that it’s normal for children to have trouble staying motivated at this age and keep trying different approaches until you find one that works.