Tools For Learning

Inspiration for Parents & Educators

3 Steps to Building Kids’ Motivation

STEP 1: Love and Trust

The desire to become motivated comes early in life. What goes on in your child’s early childhood in interpersonal relationships strongly affects his motivation later on in life. Young kids develop love and trust through caring that is given to them. It’s so much easier for them to learn to talk, walk, read, and write if they feel someone really cares about them. Kids grow from trusting you and others in their life to trusting themselves. They move rapidly from dependence as infants to interdependence as toddlers, and then to independence as they grow older. This independence and a strong desire for self-assertion are part of the necessary groundwork for motivation. When children begin school, most are at a stage of development where they really want to achieve. They desire real goals, even if they are short term ones.  They want to compete, and know where they stand with others. Very few first graders are reluctant learners. The real problem of motivation comes later.

These are exmples of the ways I build love and trust in my kids:

STEP 2: Imitation

Out of imitation grows self-identification. Self-identifiation is trying to be like others. Kids’ most important identifications are with their parents first, their grandparents, their teachers, and other significant people in their lives. Imitation is needed to motivate behavior during the growing up years. Having only models that are successful or, conversely, who always seem to fail is a deterrent to developing a healthy balance for motivation.

These are the ways my kids imitate the things I say and do:

STEP 3: Competence

This step to building motivation is competence in specific areas of physical, intellectual, social, and emotional functioning. What does competency do? Kids who conquer the first grade reader are motivated to read other books. If they learn to play T-Ball without too much difficulty and feel good about their accomplishments, they will attempt to do even better  and try new things. Success and failure tend to become patterns. If failure is experienced often, kids begin to see themselves as not likely to succeed. Some may even find many excuses to stop trying; others may act out, or regularly misbehave. Fostering healthy motivation depends upon a foundation of love, acceptance, trust, and care. Dependence becomes independence, and then eventually independence becomes competence. Encourage your kids to be individuals, separate in their own right, yet willing and able to seek help when needed, loosening family ties enough to allow for some outside experience. Provide many and varied opportunities for them to develop proficiency and skills in the pursuits of their own choosing, of course with your unwavering guidance. Find exemplary models for them – that’s the secret!

These are the areas in which my kids are competent:

These are some ways I can build my kids’ competence at home:

These are some ways I can build my kids’ competence in school:

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Take Care of Yourself!

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! I’m sure you don’t hear those words so often as a parent. There is so much information out there about how to take care of your children, but not so much about how to take of yourself. Your job as a parent is the most important job in the world to love, nuture, and guide your children. While it is an awesome role, many times it is not a joyous one. It is often filled with over loaded schedules, self-doubt, and mixed messages. Today, we are all “caught up” in a face paced, ever changing society, and your own needs are often lost in the shuffle. If this is the case in your own parenthood journey it’s time now to change things up a bit.

From this time on, be consciously aware that you have everything within you to have the life you want and deserve.  I’m sure that you can think of several stumbling blocks to getting started to free up some time for yourself, and establish a more harmonious home environment. If you genuinely feel in your heart that you really have no time for yourself, try to lessen, or better yet eliminate your least liked chore from your to-do-list!!!!

 I gave up ironing many years ago…. a chore I hated with a passion. I had to make plans to make this work, though. I gave things away that were made of cotton and linen. From then on I only bought wrinke free clothes, and never fully dried the clothes that came out of the dryer. I put them on hangers and hung them on my kitchen cabinets until they were dry. This all seems so simple and questionable, but in my case it worked! It really did! It freed up some very valuable time  for me and  my family. I successfully eliminated my least favorite chore and you can too! Think about it. What can you give up to free up some quality time first for yourself, and your family? Experiment with it! Let me know how it works for you. Maybe we can offer some great ideas to other moms and dads in need of taking better care of themselves by freeing themselves of at least one thing on their to-do-list.

You’ll soon come to realize that making the effort and carving out some extra time for yourself is most important to your overall well-being. How powerful it is to do even the simplest things you love, instead of just thinking or talking about them. If you do this, you will come to understand that you are worth the effort and the time you take for the activities that make you, truly you. Your world really won’t fall apart if you shake it up a bit!

P.S. I have a framed picture in my kitchen with the inscription: “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”  It reminds me that I should take care of me first, so that I’m prepared to fully and lovingly take care of my family.  What a great reminder!


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Gratitude – Really A Choice?

Why show gratitude? Is it just the right thing to do, or does it have some other intrinsic value? Being thankful and demonstrating sincere gratitude takes energy and thought. Having an attitude of of gratitude requires conscious effort. Practicing gratitude has a permanent effect on you and your children. When you express thankfullness, you not only impact the receiver, you also receive benefits as the giver.

Gratitude is really a choice. It doesn’t depend on curcumstances, genetics, or something that you don’t have any control over. It actually becomes an attitude that you can choose that makes life better for you and your kids. When things go badly, gratitude enables you to get over these situations, and come to realize that they are just temporary. Everyone hits rough spots. Some parents seem to survive great storms. These trials are sent in order to rekindle faith and love, and keep them from feeling hopeless.

Each day you are given a new chance to make necessary changes in your life. There is always hope of experiencing happiness. If the only prayer you ever said was “THANK YOU“, that would absolutely be enough! By maintaining an attitude of gratitude each day, you cultivate the habit of appreciating what you already have, instead of dwelling on what you don’t have. You will experience more peace and contentment because your outlook begins on a positive note. You will also be better able to handle any challenges if you have an appreciative mindset.

A great step to help you get started and bring the power of gratitude into your life is keep a Thankful Journal! End the downward spiral you may be on by counting your blessings. Many wonderful things happen to you each and every day. They often times go unrecognized because you live at speed instead of depth. The daily inventory of what’s good and wholesome in your life will help you acknowledge the blessings that already enrich your life. Don’t minimize this strategy! It could be the very catalyst to break the “woe is me” cycle, and finally set you free. It will put the happenings of your life with all the ups and downs into perspective.

Notice the smile on a person’s face when you say a sincere ThankYou! It will be sure to warm your heart…..

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