Tools For Learning

Inspiration for Parents & Educators

3 Steps to Building Kids’ Motivation

on November 25, 2013

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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