How to motivate children: science


In this article, I’m going khổng lồ explain 10 principles for motivating children to vị well in school.

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How NOT to motivate your teenager to vì chưng better in school

The first five items on the danh sách below might be things you’ve done in the past, but there’s no reason to lớn get down on yourself about them.

They’re simply common parenting habits that are born from good intentions, but ultimately are not effective motivational tools.

You can start today to become a better listener, less controlling, & more accepting. Let’s take a look at what khổng lồ avoid going forward.

1. Don’t annoy your children

One of the keys to motivating your children lớn work hard is not lớn annoy them.

This may seem odd at first, as we’re used lớn parents getting annoyed with children, not vice versa.

But relationships are a two-way street, & parents can also annoy children.

If your children are continually upset with you over things you say or do, they will find it hard to listen khổng lồ you.

You may have some great wisdom to lớn offer them, but your children won’t be receptive to your advice.

Parents often engage in power struggles with their children. For some of us, these are habits we learned from our own childhoods.

But power nguồn struggles with your children consume a lot of energy. And that’s energy that could be spent on something more constructive.

Another habit lớn avoid is making comments that suggest your child isn’t good enough.

This may be something you’re not aware that you do.

It may be very subtle. For example, take the statement: “You’re improving, but I know you can vì better.”

On the surface, it sounds like encouragement. But you’re actually telling your child that he or she isn’t good enough.

Or take a statement that begins: “When I was your age…” These kinds of statements usually involve a comparison that leaves your children feeling bad. So avoid making these types of comments.

Another trap that parents fall into is comparing their children with someone else’s. Parents often hope that these comparisons will inspire their children to vì chưng better.

Unfortunately, these comments have the opposite effect.

“I hear that John got A’s in all his subjects the last term” may seem lượt thích an innocent remark. But it’s a comparison that leaves your child feeling worse about himself or herself.

This is not the way to motivate your children.

Sometimes, parents try lớn motivate their children by giving them lectures. But lectures tend to lớn make children feel powerless và resentful.

Instead of lecturing your children, discuss the issue with them & ask them what they think. This is much more effective than lecturing them.


Because it gets them involved, & makes them part of the solution.

2. Don’t use rewards, punishments, or threats

As a parent, it’s tempting to use rewards, punishments or threats lớn motivate your children to behave in a certain way.

Research has shown this approach doesn’t work in the long term.

There are three reasons in particular that rewards và punishments are to lớn be avoided.

Firstly, rewards & punishments are bad for your relationship with your children.

They teach your children that they’re loved for what they do and not for who they are. Children who grow up unsure that they’re loved for who they are tend to lớn make poor life choices later on.

Secondly, rewards and punishments may get short-term results, but they ignore the underlying issue: Why is your child not motivated?

It’s much better khổng lồ address the root cause than khổng lồ use a band-aid approach of rewards & punishments.

Thirdly, rewards và punishments put your children’s focus entirely on outcomes. Your children’s màn chơi of motivation is based on the promise of the reward or the threat of the punishment.

Rewards, punishments và threats don’t teach your children how lớn develop intrinsic motivation. They don’t cultivate in your children a love of learning.

As mentioned earlier in this article, it’s better khổng lồ focus on the process & not the outcome. This way, your children will develop self-discipline and a sense of responsibility.

So what should you vày instead of using rewards & punishments?

Discuss with your children the joy (and benefits) of learning & studying.

Explain khổng lồ them that most rewarding careers require an investment of time and effort.

But it’s also important lớn explain lớn your children that the process itself is rewarding, even though it will involve sacrifices.

Discuss with your children what their hopes & aspirations are.

Help them to lớn dream big & dare khổng lồ fail – and mã sản phẩm for them how you’re doing the same in your own life.

This approach produces the kind of intrinsic motivation và self-discipline that will last a lifetime.

3. Don’t try to control all of their actions

If you want to lớn motivate your children, they need lớn feel as if they’re in control of their lives.

Being motivated comes from knowing that you can shape your future through the actions you take today.

But if children feel as if their parents are in complete (or almost complete) control, they will have little motivation.

Some parents hover over their children. They micromanage every last detail of their children’s lives.

The result is that the children never develop a sense that they’re responsible for their education and their lives.

By empowering your children, they’ll develop a sense of autonomy & responsibility.

Talk to your children regularly about expectations và consequences.

As a parent, I’m sure you have expectations of your children. For example, you may expect them lớn keep their room tidy – and there may be consequences for not doing that.

Learning to be responsible in one area (keeping their room tidy) encourages them khổng lồ be responsible in other areas of life, such as studying.

With this approach, you still need to be involved in your children’s lives. The difference is that instead of hovering & micromanaging, you create boundaries around your involvement.

For example, you can make it clear to lớn your children that you’re available to answer homework-related questions every weeknight between 8 pm and 9 pm.

This way, your children will develop the ability khổng lồ motivate themselves. They’ll know that they alone are responsible for making sure their homework gets done.

In contrast, consider children whose parents nag them every day to bởi their homework. Those children won’t develop the ability to lớn motivate themselves.

4. Don’t obsess over the results; emphasise the process instead

The writer Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

This principle applies to lớn study skills and tips as much as it does lớn life in general.

When motivating your children to bởi vì well in school, focus on the process and not the results.

If your children are too focused on results, there’s a danger that when they don’t achieve the results they want, they’ll give up.

What’s more, when we focus only on results, the process becomes a “necessary evil”.

The process becomes something we go through grudgingly because we want a certain result.

But this approach doesn’t encourage a love of learning.

We live in an age when learning is a skill that we need to practise throughout our lives. The world is changing faster than ever before. As such, we all need to lớn be continually learning.

And that’s why it’s important lớn focus on the process, not the results.

Cultivate in your children a love of learning for its own sake, not just as a means to achieve a goal. At the over of the day, achieving goals is a by-product of the systems and processes that we follow.

For example, as a concert pianist, you may have a goal lớn play Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 15 in B-flat major without making a single mistake.

The system or process that makes it possible khổng lồ reach that goal is how often you practise, how you break down & learn difficult cadenzas, & how you incorporate feedback from your music teacher.

When teaching children how lớn study and how to motivate themselves, it’s vital that you focus on the process and not the outcome.

5. Don’t reduce your child lớn a problem that needs to lớn be solved

Pre-teens and teens are going through a lot of changes, both physically and mentally.

It’s also a time when they may start displaying problematic behaviours, such as aggression, mood swings, being argumentative, and defying established rules.

As a parent, it’s natural for these kinds of behaviours lớn become the centre of your attention – they’re problems that you want to solve.

But it’s actually better not lớn focus on these behaviours.

Instead, try khổng lồ understand your children’s perspective:

How vị they feel about the situation?What opinions bởi vì they have?

To understand your children better, you’ll need to practise active listening.

Xem thêm: Past And The Present, Study History To Anticipate The Future

Active listening occurs when we give our full attention lớn what someone is saying.

This means that you aren’t multitasking while your children are talking khổng lồ you. It means that you aren’t checking your phone or writing a list of things to do.

Active listening means not interrupting your children while they’re talking. It means not judging them or moralising about something they did. It means not offering unsolicited advice.

You can show your children that you’re giving them your full attention by saying things like “go on” & “tell me more”.

Now và again, summarise your understanding of what your children have been saying.

For example, you could say: “It sounds as if there’s a ‘cool’ group of kids in your class, và that you’re feeling excluded by them.”

This indicates khổng lồ your child that you’re actively listening. It’s also a way of checking that you understand what he or she is saying.

Some parents think that if only they could make their children understand some fundamental principle, the whole problem would disappear.

But often what pre-teens & teens need most is not to understand; they need to lớn feel understood.

When they don’t feel understood, they become defiant.

On the other hand, when they feel understood, it creates a space where they feel safe. & that, in turn, creates an environment where they’re mở cửa to looking at the problem in a new light.

How khổng lồ motivate your teenager to vì chưng better in school

Now it’s time to lớn focus on positive behaviour that helps your child feel understood, supported, và encouraged.

Use these strategies to strengthen your connection with your child & teach him or her crucial organisational and planning skills. These healthy habits will help your child in school and beyond.

6. Develop routines and structure

Routines & structure play a crucial role in developing motivation in your children.

Having established routines in family life eliminates a majority of conflicts.

Take homework, for example.

Let’s say you have an established routine that your children bởi vì their homework every weeknight between 7 pm and 9 pm.

There won’t be conflicts related khổng lồ homework, because it’s simply “the way we vì things in this family”.

But in a family without routines, ensuring that your children vày their homework becomes a daily battle.

Of course, even established routines sometimes need lớn be reinforced or modified.

For example, now & again you may need khổng lồ say something like: “When you’ve completed your homework, you can go to lớn Melissa’s house.”

To create a homework routine, it’s a good idea khổng lồ set up a small part of the house as a study area.

Having a study area that’s không tính tiền of distractions will help your children develop a homework routine.

It may also help your children if you also devote that period of time khổng lồ doing your own “homework”. This could be paying bills online, taking an online course, or reading a book to learn about a new topic.

7. Equip your children with planning & organisational skills

As parents, we (hopefully) have planning & organisational skills that we’ve developed over the years.

But we often take these skills for granted, và forget that our children don’t yet have those skills.

Pre-teens and teens can feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and stressed because of the demands they face at school. In response, many of them give up and turn to lớn videos and games as a khung of escape.

Some pre-teens & teens might even say they hate school.

But if they have planning & organisational skills, their attitude toward school và academics will be different.

One organisational skill you can teach your children is to break down big tasks into smaller tasks.

Some people call this “chunking down”. This technique makes any task more manageable & doable.

Another skill you can teach your children is list-making. Lists are at the heart of all organisational skills, so this is a great place to lớn start.

You could teach your children how to use a menu to pack their bag for a school camp or a school outing.

Planning is another organisational skill that will reduce your children’s bao tay related to school và exams.

Planning involves placing lists of tasks khổng lồ be completed within a certain timeframe. This way, your children will learn to lớn complete tasks one by one instead of leaving them until it’s so late that they feel overwhelmed.

For example, if your children have exams coming up, you could teach them how to:

Break down their revision material into a series of tasksUse a calendar to plan how they’re going lớn complete those tasks within a phối timeframe

8. Create a family culture where it’s OK khổng lồ make mistakes

We learn more from our failures than we bởi vì from our successes.

Thomas Edison made an extraordinary number of unsuccessful attempts at inventing the electric light bulb.

When a reporter asked him how it felt lớn fail 1,000 times, Edison replied: “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Unfortunately, we live in an age that places enormous emphasis on instant success.

Failure isn’t tolerated. Parents correct their children’s homework lớn improve their grades. They argue with teachers who try to lớn point out areas where their children need lớn improve.

Yet making mistakes is an essential part of learning.

We must learn from our mistakes and correct them, much lượt thích a ship that frequently adjusts its course to lớn stay on the correct bearing.

If you want lớn motivate your children to lớn study hard & do well in school, one of the best things you can bởi is create a family culture where it’s OK lớn make mistakes.

One way to vày this is to nội dung with your children your own mistakes and what you learned from them.

For example, maybe you went lớn university to lớn study one field và ended up switching to lớn a different field when you started work. By sharing that experience with your children, you’re showing them that they don’t have lớn get it “right” the first time.

If you want khổng lồ teach your children to love learning, one thing you should avoid at all costs is focusing too much on their failures.

Instead of criticising them for their failures, help them to identify what they’ve learned from their mistakes.

A study by Stanford University has shown that children who are praised for their effort work harder and give up less easily.

On the other hand, children who are afraid of failure are more likely to lớn become discouraged when they make mistakes. Instead of learning from their mistakes và moving on, they’re likely khổng lồ give up altogether.

9. Show an interest in all aspects of your children’s lives

One of the keys lớn motivating your children to do well in school is lớn show an interest in all aspects of their lives, not just their academics.

If your only concern is how your children are doing in school, they may begin lớn feel as if they’re being treated as a project instead of as a person.

This can lead khổng lồ them feeling resentful. And resentment will result in resistance lớn anything related to lớn studying.

Treat your child as a whole person, not as a project or problem.

Listen khổng lồ your children when they talk about their interests. Encourage them lớn get involved in non-school activities, lượt thích dance or drama or athletics.

How pre-teens và teens spend their time is crucial lớn their overall development.

An approach that focuses entirely on studying won’t help your children khổng lồ develop in a balanced way.

Learning a musical instrument, playing a team sport, and taking an online course on entrepreneurship are all activities that will help your children to develop holistically.

These non-academic activities will give your children a much-needed break from their studies, and will help them to vày better as they pursue their long-term academic goals.

10. Help your children lớn find a mentor

According to research by North Carolina State University, children who have mentors are more likely to lớn become successful.

A mentor is an adult who acts as a role mã sản phẩm for your children.

One of the benefits of your children having a mentor is that they will understand a perspective on life from someone who isn’t their parent.

The mentor’s values and attitudes may be similar to lớn yours. But those values will mean more to your children when they’re modelled by someone outside the family.

One reason for this is that children inevitably become accustomed khổng lồ their parents’ viewpoints and begin to lớn tune their parents out.

Having a mentor is a chance for your children to lớn re-engage with those values, from a fresh perspective.

A mentor can be particularly helpful when there’s an ongoing conflict between parents và children.

In this kind of situation, your children can benefit from having a neutral third các buổi tiệc nhỏ they can turn to. The mentor may help your children to see the issues from a new perspective.

So where can you find a mentor for your children?

A mentor could be:

A sports coach, art teacher or music teacherA neighbour or family friendOne of your co-workers


These ten principles will help you lớn build in your child a deeper motivation khổng lồ work hard.

Some of these principles, like establishing routines và structure, may take a while khổng lồ implement. But other tips và principles you can put into practice right away.

For example, you can start practising active listening today.

I’m confident you’ll start seeing positive results.

(Here’s a link where you can explore more tips on how lớn motivate a teenager.)