When children are motivated to do well in school and in their everyday lives, there are always positive results. First let’s start out by exploring what motivation is. Motivation is a desire to achieve a goal, combined with the energy to work towards that goal.
There are two types of motivation. Extrinsic and Intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation involves external incentives such as rewards and punishments. If a child is studying hard because they want to have good grades to make their parents happy, they are extrinsically motivated. Similarly, if a child does his or her tasks around the house because he or she knows that they will get ice cream after, this is also an example of extrinsic motivation.
On the other hand, if a child is motivated based on internal factors such as self-determination, curiosity and challenge, they are intrinsically motivated. In relation to the examples of extrinsic motivation, if a child is intrinsically motivated, when it comes to studying, they will want to study because they are internally motivated to achieve high standards in their work, and not just because it will make mommy and daddy happy.
Although in the long run it should be a goal to have your child be intrinsically motivated to behave well, do well in school, and be a responsible citizen, extrinsic motivation is not necessarily a bad thing. For example, in school, teachers may give stickers to young children for a job well done. This is an extrinsic motivator; however, it should be followed up with “Great Job!” or a comment that will somehow make them feel good about the work they’ve done and hopefully spark the internal motivation to always want to do well. Let’s take this example to a home situation. You would like your child to clean their room, but they just don’t seem to get it done unless you remind them. You may say to them “You cannot go outside and play until your room is clean.” To a young child, the only reason they would like to clean their room is so that they can go out and play. The child is motivated by the extrinsic reward of going to play. So how do you turn this around and make it something that they want to do for themselves? You may want to try and point out the benefits of a clean room to them at another time. When they are getting ready for bed, and everything is where it should be, praise them for the job well done, and remind them how nice it is to get into a well made up bed and not have all the clutter around them. Give them lots of verbal praise and reinforcement, in the hopes that they will soon become motivated to clean their room for themselves. You may find that after awhile, they’ll start getting use to having things in order, and want to have it that way, whether they are told or not. Keep in mind…this may take some time!
Motivation is extremely important when it comes to school work. Regardless of age, if a student is motivated to do well, they will do better than if they are not. An important part of motivation is setting realistic and attainable goals. A very common goal is to do better in school. So how can you encourage your child to stay motivated to obtain this goal?
There are a few important facts about goals that will help you do so.
- Set specific and realistic goals. An example of a specific and realistic goal may be that your child would like to raise their mark in math by 10% over the next term. This is a lot more specific than, “I want to do better in school.” Once you have set an academic goal with your child, help them think of certain habits that they need to develop to achieve this goal.
- It takes time for a change to become an established habit. If you and your child decide that an extra half an hour must be spent on math every evening to help obtain the math goal, you may have to remind them for awhile. It will take time for this extra half an hour to become a habit.
- Repeating a goal makes it stick. Encourage your child to say their goal out loud to themselves. It may sound and seem a little silly at first, but a reminder every morning may be helpful. Writing it down may help as well. As they remind themselves of their goal, they are training their brain to make it happen.
- Attempting to achieve a goal to please someone else, doesn’t work. It’s important to help your child find the desire to achieve the goal within him or herself. It is much harder to stay motivated and on track if they are doing so based on obligation to another person.
- Roadblocks along the way and they do not mean failure. In keeping with our math example, there may be times that your child may hand in an assignment and not do as well as he or she thought they would. It happens, and it is part of the learning process. What is important is that the situation is evaluated to find ways to have a more favorable outcome the next time around. Try not to let them beat themselves up over little slip ups and remember to continue motivating them and giving them positive feedback that they need to continue pursuing their goal.