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Motivating the Under-motivated Child

Nine-year-old Nick loved sports. He played from dawn to dusk. He continually wanted to kick a ball, bounce a ball, play on every team he could. His parents were constantly moving from season to season and sport to sport. At school Nick seemed restless. His grades were okay, C’s mostly with an occasional B. His parents were constantly on him to do better. Nick always said he would but nothing changed.

Nick had a great passion for the sports he played but little passion for learning. Oh, he liked the social part of school, seeing friends, participating in events but always said school was boring. What’s a parent to do?

Nick’s parents and teachers knew that intellectually he was capable of more than he was producing. Parents threatened, occasionally took away privileges, even made him sit out a sport for a season, still nothing changed. The problem: Nick’s parents were trying to punish Nick into doing well in school rather than helping him become successful. Motivation is a multifaceted process that must be matured over time.

Keys to Motivating Success

…Parents – Mom and Dad need to present the importance of education from their own life. If parents haven’t achieved themselves, they must speak often of what they’ve learned about the importance of education. They must present an attitude of being eager to learn themselves and speak of what they are learning in their own lives. In addition, it may be helpful to be excited about what children are learning and learn to celebrate any attempts at learning that that children present. Show interest in any specific area the child expresses interest in learning about.

…Children – Set aside an hour per school night to be involved in children’s learning. This does not mean just asking them if they have homework. It means having a learning hour each night. Parent involvement may be in a variety of ways during this time, from asking questions about what’s learned, to identifying difficulties, to reviewing for a test. This may be a time of reading over assignments or discussing what’s being learned that particular week. As children are shown interest and excitement about their learning it may motivate their desire to learn, because of the importance and joy of learning, and not simply by punishing them for unacceptable grades.

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