Avoid comparison, appreciate and encourage. How to develop the children’s motivation, advice for the parents
Many people think that motivation is like a magical rabbit – when you pull it out of the hat, the children will strat loving education at once. But motivation is a process born inside us, based on our wishes and dreams. We are not pushed to do something, we are just eager to do it.
External motivation is a reward stimulating our actions. But, from experience, the more we are trying to motivate the child from the outside, the less are the chances that the stimulation will be developed inside. Sometimes the attempts to motivate a child look really clumsy and awkward – they are not about attracting the interest, but about compelling, causing anxiety or guilt. As the result, we get what the psychologists call «replacement of goal and motive» – it’s when a child studies not to learn something new, but to get a good great and be left in peace.
How can we act to help transform external motivation into internal, without destroying the internal motivation? Viktoria Tynko, class teacher, shares the useful lifehacks with us.
Support the curiosity
First of all, it is very important not to suppress the source of internal motivation, when a child is trying to know everything and to explore the wolrd, constantly asking questions.
If we suppress this curiosity («Don’t bother us!», «Stop it!»), reversing it will be so much harder. When you are answering all the child’s questions patiently and in detail, you are forming the idea that the cognitive process is really interesting.
Teach how to learn
The process of obtaining ifromation is vitally important. If the child gets all the ready-made answers, the education becomes dull and boring. If your child asks you something and you don’t know the answer, tell it directly and try to search for the answer together, in books and the Internet.
You can also allow your child to experiment and show some creativity. Don not insist on sticking with the example, accapt different kinds of answers and solutions.
Apply the knowledge
Let the child use and apply the knowledge he/she learned. Because noone likes bare theory. If the child knows how to count, allow him/her to count the items you bought together. Conduct some physical and chemical experiments at a simple level, at home. Because even cooking pancakes demonstrates many scientific phenomena. And a trip abroad allows to communicate with native speakers and apply the knowledge obtained at the foreign language classes.
Do not study instead of your child
While we study online, the teachers often observe that one of the relatives sits near to the child and prompts all the answers. In a short while it causes the child to stop thinking at all and answering even the most simple questions. Unfortunately, it happens really often in practice – when the parents are making homework instead of the child, lacking the patience to explain and do the tasks together. You don’t have to show exactly how the problem is solved. It’s better to create a situation when the child will make at least some part of the task independently. Such process is time-consuming, but more efficient.
When we are doing something together with the child, we can unnoticeably do the part which the child fails to do, and vary the part which the child does him/herself. Even if a child does not want to do some boring or tedious task, joint activity will also be useful – it will not be as boring as doing it alone. Afterwards the child will get used to it and will remember that after every hard task there is an easy task, and you can do the hard one faster to get to the more pleasant things.
Raise the independence
If the parents are overprotective, and pack the school bag, clean the desk and arrange the clothes instead of the child, he/she will never even know how to do it. Create the conditions where the child can do something independently, and help only when asked. Allow the child to make the sandwiches or even cook the dinner, provided that he/she will clean everything up after that. And son you will see that the child’s desk is clean and organized.
It’s the knowledge that matters, not the grades
Expecting the highest grade is the most widespread mistake among parents. Every evening they ask the same question – which grades did their child receive in school? But, in fact, it is much more important to ask what new has the child learned that day. Stimulate the child’s thinking and desire to discuss. Remember, any grade is not objective, it’s just a grade, not a real demonstration of knowledge. The child does not have to be the top-graded student. But if a child is sad because of the low grade, do not scold, but support, hug and discuss why it happened and what can be done to correct it.
Do not compare
Never ever must you compare your child with the peers, classmates or elder brothers and sisters. You will only cause animosity and low self-esteem. You must not say that: «Maria got «10» for the test , and you got only 6», better find out what prevented your child from writing the test as good as usually. And distinguish the child’s progress: «I can see that you applied good effort: this time you have three mistakes less than in the previous test».
You must give praise to your child. Tell him/her that the test results are much better this time, remark the teacher’s appreciation, tell about the child’s success and progress to family members. The child has to know that his/her efforts are noticed and appreciated by the parents. But you must also admire and appreciate correctly. Saying «Good boy/girl!» is not enough.
When you are appreciating the work, the child must feel that you are not just looking at the task made, but also understanding it. It’s important to emphasize the details, examine, ask the questions about what is depicted there, then the child will see your interest and will want to repeat the pleasant experience.
Small incentives, not big rewards
Encourage the child, appreciate the results, but don’t do it in money equivalent or with expensive presents. Otherwise you will face the situation when a child wants to “sell” the results for a bigger price. Incentives must be symbolical. «You will get a raisin for every letter you write well». It works much better than «you will get a pastry for every page you write well». And much, much better than «you will get a gadget for the 10 you receive this semester».
Sometimes the child does not want to go to school, and there is often a good reason for that. Maybe, it is a conflict with a teacher, or bullying, or something happened that caused the child to feel ashamed. That’s why you must always be informed and aware what is going on in your child’s school life.
You must communicate with the teachers, ask about your child’s friends. But it is also very important to build the relationship of trust with the child, without scolding or scaring, when a child is trying to tell you something. And then you will be the first to know about all events and problems in school, or even about romantic feelings to the opposite sex. This will allow you to react to the problems swiftly instead of waiting for the problems to pile up and cause the child’s total reluctance to go to school.
Develop adequate self-esteem
Psychologists think that the children with low self-esteem almost always have «problems» with motivation – why try if I am always failing? There are also the opposite situations, when the children with extremely high self esteem think that they are always right, which also influences their success. If the child is timid and shy, or has trouble learning, appreciate and praise him/her more often, emphasize his/her success in other spheres (sports, clubs). And if the self-esteem of the child is too high, try to softly point out the mistakes.
Minimize the stress
If the child fails, show all you love and understanding. Help you child to aim for a solution, give emotional support, without phrases like «I told you!», and share your own experience, tell about your troubles in school and how you had to cope with difficulties. Show what you have achieved now, after going through all the hard moments. Discuss your failures and insecurities together. The child must always know tha he/she will be heard. Explain that stress is inevitable, it’s an integral part of life, and teach the child to cope with it.
And there is one more good advice: don’t foget to show positive attitude to the school and teh educational process. Thus, the child will see that the parents value the role of education. Be careful when you say something about the teachers or the subjects. Never criticize them in front of the children and make the teachers your allies.
Motivation for studies can not be developed in one day, sometimes it requires lots of time and efforts. And if you notice that you missed something, it’s never late to re-construct your relations on the basis of trust and understanding. Whatever your requirements to the teachers and education, the child must receive all the support and warmth from the family.
The parents’ love and confidence are the best motivation for a child’s successful education!