How to Motivate Children to Try Their Best

I believe that many parents like me are thinking about How to Motivate Children to Try Their Best to learn and to do other activities.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. “– Winston Churchill

I like this quote and believe that as human beings, we should try our best to do our best. I also want to pass this value to my children and share my thought with those who have the same belief.

Needs and Motivators

In Understand Children’s Needs, we discussed children’s basic needs, which are the key motivators including emotional drivers and materialistic motivators. All of them are powerful forms of encouragement.

Some of the motivators:

Health – to stay healthy is a must for one’s life

Happiness – everyone wants to be happy, this is one of the most important emotional drivers

Success – the desire to do something valuable to receive recognition and feel self-fulfillment and increase self-esteem. These are basic needs for a person’s self-awareness. Teens want to succeed in life, and gain recognition from their family, school teachers and peers

Love – this is the most powerful emotional need for everyone and is not an exception for teens. They need love from parents, family, friends etc.

Freedom – People want to control and not to be controlled. Teens do not want to be controlled by their parents, they want to be independent but at the same time receive support while seeking that independence.

Security –People want be safe and certain about things rather than experiencing worry. Insecure situations lead to teens experiencing stress.

New experiences – people want to know what they do not know. Everyone has curiosity.

Praise for Effort, not for Innate Ability

Because innate ability is out of our control, I think when it comes to motivating children, we should stress effort not innate ability. Effort and motivation are crucial to success. Motivating children to increase effort and try their best to achieve is one of the most crucial motivators. Fortunately, that can be nurtured.

Parents should praise children for their effort, not for their innate abilities. By doing so, parents teach your children a greater sense of control over their lives, and this results in improved study habits and grades. Your children will know that it is their effort that leads toward their success. Therefore they are more likely to work hard and wisely toward their goals.

Although certain innate advantages do exist in some children, educational research demonstrates that calling attention to innate ability is demonstrably unhelpful to achievement. Both children with and without innate advantages benefit from developing a mindset that equates success with effort and are hurt by a mindset that equates success with innate ability (e.g. “She is successful because she is talented” as opposed to “She is successful because she practices daily”).

How to Motivate Children: 8 Ways to Motivate Children

I think most parents agree that the cause of their children’s underachievement in school is often simply a lack of motivation. What can parents do to motivate their children? Here are some ideas I want to share with you.

  1. Be your children’s supporter
  2. Teenagers are different from younger kids. A teenager wants to be treated like an adult. I think respecting your teenager is the key to building a trusting relationship between parents and teens. Parents should give teenagers as much support as possible, not by controlling, but by guiding teens.

  3. Expose your teenager to various ideas and areas
  4. SomSometimes a teenager lacks motivation because he or she hasn’t yet been exposed to what might be a life passion. Look for different programs, give your teen a chance to try them, and keep an open mind to help your teen to find his or her interests and passions.

  5. Help your teenager make connection between schoolwork and his interests
  6. Sometimes children lack motivation because they do not see a connection between the work they are being asked to do and their interests and goals. A teenager who wants to be a doctor should know that math and science is important in those jobs. Parents may give examples how these courses help.

  7. Teach your teenager responsibility
  8. Parents should encourage teenagers to understand that freedom and power brings responsibilities. If your teen wants to make independent decisions, then he or she will have to take responsibility for the resulting consequences of the decisions.

  9. Guide your teenager to find his goals
  10. Individuals who have goals are highly motivated because they know what they want and work towards the goals. For most of teenagers, they do not know what they want to be yet, they are exploring and trying to find their values, beliefs and their future paths. They are usually driven by the sheer joy of participating in something they love now, and do not consider long term goals. Parents should talk to teens about things they enjoy right now and guide them to find what they believe about their life and set up appropriate goals that are associated with their passions.

  11. Set high expectations
  12. High standards lead to high performance. If parents set clear goals and expectations for their children and support them to achieve their goals, the children become successful. This success motivates children to feel fulfillment and do even better.

  13. Use short-term goals and rewards
  14. Sometimes a child gets overwhelmed by a large task and gives up before he or she even begins. Help your child separate the task into a series of smaller tasks. Make each small task a goal and try to setting an age-appropriate reward for that goal.

  15. Help your teenager learn to manage time
  16. When they start school, most children have few problems keeping up with school work because they learn quickly and easily, so they don’t get the chance to learn to manage their time in order to get work done. After they become teenagers, they face more challenging tasks, and they may feel overwhelmed by the work they need to complete and do not know how to set time aside to complete their tasks. Teaching your teenager how to create and use a time-management schedule is helpful.

Summary

Children are natural learners. To motivate children to try their best and be best of them is the key to achievement. Parents should learn different ways on How to Motivate Children and foster a supportive climate in which you serve as supporter and your children have the opportunity to explore and gain their own experience.

To learn more parenting skills, please refer to great parenting books.

11 thoughts on “How to Motivate Children to Try Their Best

  1. Thanks for this great post. It is so important to make this distinction between praising ability and praising effort. I also appreciate your quoting Churchill at the beginning of the post– “failure is not fatal.” Many kids do think that failure is forever, larger than life, irrevocable. As a result, they often curtail their effort in trying anything but the sure bet, because they can’t risk failing.

    This pattern of magnifying/distorting the impact of mistakes or ‘failures” is one of the issues that I address in my new book, Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking: Powerful, Practical Strategies to Build a Lifetime of Resilience, Flexibility and Happiness. Parents often feel ill-equipped to talk their child through a disappointment and may just try to smooth it over rather than teaching them how to think it through, learn what you can and figure out your next step. Finding the language to destigmatize mistakes is a crucial skill to pass on to our kids. To that end, I devote an entire chapter of my book to the topic of overcoming failure, disappointment and losing.

    If you’re interested in reading an excerpt, please check out: http://www.freeingyourchild.com.

  2. Thank you very much for your in-depth commenting, Dr. Tamar Chansky.

    I definitely will check your website and books and believe they will help both parents and kids in this challenge world.

  3. Yes, if a person does not continue to do it and gives up, he or she will not succeed! In order to continue to it, one not only needs to be persistent but also be patient!

  4. I think that by setting a clear target, being brave to take action, learning from failure and success, being patient, then will lead to success!

  5. People are towards higher level, water flows towards lower level. Each one is growing up in different ways. In order to be his or her best, need to find his or her unique path of growth.

  6. Yes, this is not the desire of all people. Confucius said that people must be determined to pursue a big goal early, and be an excellent person; life gives the best opportunity to those who have the ability to learn and mastery. . . . . . Therefore, only by doing one’s best, a person can find more opportunities and be able to develop themselves better in the future, and therefore can serve the community and humanity better.

  7. Hello, I have browsed most of your posts. This post is probably where I got the most useful information for my research. Thanks for posting, maybe we can see more on this.

  8. Yes ah, this is not what people have the desire, Confucius says that people must be determined early, and when Li Zhi lofty, a man should be leader, opportunities in the community and never have the ability to favor those who have knowledge of high quality people. . . . . . Therefore, only do your best, but also to secure their social opportunities, so that it can play to their talents, but also to better serve the community and humanity.

  9. Great information, I worry every day how I can best raise happy and motivated children. Mine aren’t quite teenagers yet, but as anyone with kids know they will be in the blink of an eye.

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