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How to develop motivation in our children?

Motivation is one of the great secrets of the educational task. Motivating means knowing how to awaken those hidden interests and curiosities of boys and girls to get them to show all their energy. It is letting them know that “if you want to, you can do it”. Also it is instilling the desire to act in a certain way. The success is found in awakening those good desires that are in every person because in this way the implementation is much easier.

Normally children like to go to school, get good grades. They are active and they are interested in what they do. However, if this doesn’t happen, it is possible that there is a problem. For example, difficulties inside the families, learning problems, lack of study habits, of will power, among others. Most likely, there is a lack of motivation for studies, which means that he cannot find any in studying, understand his courses and carry out class activities.

It is wrong to think that to motivate boys and girls you have to promise them gifts or prizes. This only triggers a spiral of whims and requests. The “materialization” of motivation has as an effect of insatiability or saturation because, to obtain any objective, you need something material in return. Although it may seem the opposite, children prefer recognition rather than a gift. They value more a smile, a little compliment, an intelligent stimulus, words of encouragement, a sincere interest in what they have done. Children are very happy to see their parent’s satisfaction in witnessing their achievements and their own satisfaction.

The daily study of children also requires the motivation of parents. To maintain this motivation in the child, it is important that they know how to study. “Students who know how to study, understand what they study, know how to grasp the essentials of each subject and are able to express it synthetically, convert the content of each book into a series of answers to the questions that have been asked previously” (Iturbe, 2014). This conscientious, active and thoughtful study is full of challenges and personal discoveries. Teaching children how to study also requires them to read, so that they understand the topics they are studying and in that way become interested in more than what is in written in the text they are reading. One strategy to achieve this is to ask them about comprehension, as well as inferences or deductions about what they have read.

As parents, the most important thing about motivating your children is to value more the effort they make than the results obtained, without ever conditioning your affection and support on these results. “Failure in children´s studies should never be a source of parental irritation, but a stimulus to improve the help you are giving them” (Iturbe, 2014). You have to be realistic and comprehensive with your demands, recognizing the abilities and difficulties of each child and without making comparisons with siblings.

One of the factors that motivate children the most is the attention they receive from their parents while learning, as long as it is not excessive nor it becomes an obsession with grades. It is motivating for children that parents talk to teachers and tutors in order to exchange information about what is observed at home and at school.

On the other hand, it is more educational, that instead of using prohibition as a method of demand, to use more positive motivations. That is, instead of correcting the negative, focus on the qualities and the positive aspects. In the same way, we should try to make children be more independent, autonomous and motivate them to act on their own initiative on organization, give priority to some things over others, etc. “The educators (parents) who leave their mark are those who know how to make the students (children) able to make decisions and choose paths as soon as possible” (Iturbe, 2014).


To promote motivation in your children, we suggest some tips:

  • Feeling comfortable at school is the first level of motivation.
  • Foster in children a great confidence in their abilities to learn and in their school skills.
  • Seek that they have successful experiences.
  • A safe environment and a positive climate are the best means to achieve adequate motivation.
  • Recognize your children´s achievements.
  • Encourage the enjoyment of tasks instead of only looking for materialistic objectives.
  • Avoid unnecessary help and allow children to make mistakes, specially on topics with little relevance.
  • Find situations where they commit and set goals.
  • Match the tasks with their personal goals.

By Cristina Mendiola – 5th to 7th grade psychologist

References:
Iturbe, I. (2014). Diamantes por pulir: el arte de educar de 7 a 12 años. España: Ediciones Palabra.

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