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How to Encourage Self-Motivation in Your Child

Self-motivation is a trait that is often underrated. It’s more than just getting out of bed in the morning; it can significantly impact your child’s school performance and success in adulthood. Kids with the inner drive to work hard generally have the edge over their peers. Furthermore, research shows that students fueled by intrinsic motivation think more logically and apply their knowledge and skills more effectively. A blend of cognitive and emotional intelligence will boost their academic success and other achievements.

Children are naturally motivated to learn until they’re about seven years old. After this time, they’ll need the ability to motivate themselves, a vital skill if they’re to succeed. While it’s true that self-motivation can only come from within, there are ways you can help your child nurture it, giving them an advantage that will pay off later in life. Here are several ways you can help.

Instill Optimism. Focus on solutions to problems rather than dwelling on setbacks and try to have a positive outlook on life; this will encourage your child to adopt the same approach.

Encourage Patience and Persistence. Reward effort rather than just success. You’ll help your child develop the skills they need to face challenges and keep trying until they succeed.

Build Relationships. Feeling connected to others can inspire us to contribute to family and the community. For some kids, encouraging social activities may increase their interest in household tasks and school subjects that they used to find boring.

Provide Context. Discuss what you believe and why with your child. They’ll be more likely to cooperate when they understand the purpose behind completing their homework or cleaning their room.

Boost Confidence. Instill a strong sense of self-worth in your child. Providing love and positive attention will help them feel valued. Make your child feel like they’re capable and deserving of amazing things.

Support Risk-Taking.The more secure a child feels, the more likely they’ll take advantage of the positive opportunities presented. Regardless of the outcome, praise your child’s initiative and effort. Over time, they’ll learn from setbacks, accept that sometimes they’ll fail, and refrain from holding themselves back. Showing your kids how to win or lose gracefully will allow them to deal with and move on more quickly from disappointments later in life.

Stimulate Curiosity. Children with a range of interests will generally be exposed to more opportunities. Kids are naturally inquisitive and adventurous. Guide their energy in a positive direction. A variety of interests and a good work-life balance will make the less-interesting tasks they face less demoralizing and easier to accomplish.

Set Goals. Age-appropriate challenges give kids something for which to strive. Be specific and put their objectives in writing. Together, create a chart or poster to keep their goals in the forefront of their minds.

Make Success Possible. Give your child the opportunity to be successful and experience the positive emotions that go with it. Supporting and guiding them will help build the self-esteem essential to self-motivation.

Celebrate Progress and Achievement. Helping your child to recognize and appreciate their own and other people’s success will provide goals to work towards and set a positive tone for the future.

Foster Their Learning. Encouraging your child to learn about things that they find interesting will allow them to better understand the concepts they learn at school, especially if you’re creative about the way you link their interest to learning. For instance, pacing out the length of their favorite dinosaur or measuring ingredients for baking will help them understand size or volume without making it feel like another math lesson. This may help your children to love learning and growing more than grades or privileges.

Adapt to Their Learning Style. Some children will sit and listen to new information. Others want to pick things up and use them straight away. Adapting to their preferred way of learning will keep learning fun and not a chore.

More Tips

The influence you have on your children is powerful. Creating a home environment that guides them towards satisfying their expectations will help them develop self-motivation.

Start Early. Kids are remarkably determined when it comes to talking and walking. Your early support can reinforce that inner fire and help your child to hang in there when life becomes more challenging. 

Limit Rewards. Studies show that external rewards can dampen our enthusiasm, even for tasks we enjoy doing. Try to save these incentives for special situations only.

Choose a Hobby. Devoting leisure time to enriching activities can also be a great teaching tool. Observe your child’s talents and interests and provide them with outings and projects to maximize their strengths. Maybe they will shine at playing tennis or the guitar.

Share Feedback. Open and ongoing communication builds trust. Ask probing questions, use eye contact, and listen closely to your child’s thoughts and opinions. Maybe they’re satisfied with how they’re doing in school or need additional resources like tutoring to catch up on work and remain engaged.

Be a Role Model. The more self-motivated you are in life, the more likely you will pass those qualities on to your kids. Whether returning to school to earn a second degree or spending weekends volunteering at an animal shelter, your children learn by your example.

Parents want to help improve their child’s chances of success at school and later in adulthood. Despite children’s natural curiosity, intrinsic motivation can fade unless it’s continually nurtured and developed. By starting early and encouraging your child, you can help to instill a trait that will be useful for the rest of their lives.