30 September 2021
“Rahul, if you finish your homework I will give you chocolate.”
“If you get up on time I will give you one-hour extra play time!”
And a few weeks later….
Parent: Do the homework.
Child: Give me chocolate and I will do it.
As parents we struggle to motivate our kids to do tasks. How much is too much and how much is too less?
So, when you tell your child I will give you chocolate or any materialistic commodities. They do the task as they are extrinsically motivated. Intrinsic motivation on the other hand is the act of doing something without any eternal rewards. However intrinsic motivation has a longer life span as compared to extrinsic.
What makes a child thrive? Thrive on their own abilities, their goals and their achievements. Children need to be motivated just like adults do.
Praise their strengths: How do you feel with a compliment? Appreciation is one of the most effective motivators. One feels good with encouragement. Praise them often.
Role modeling: Be a role model for your child. Talk to them about how you may have to try again and again before you can achieve what you desire. Help them to understand that “failure” enhances learning and its not an end to it.
Story telling: Children love stories. Tell them stories which help them learn about real people, their struggles, their learnings, their success and their failures.
Curiosity: Children often ask questions! Encourage them to do so. Help them find answers to their questions. Help to understand their strengths and weaknesses and use it to their best potential.
Autonomy: It’s essential to train your children to be independent. Allow them to do age-appropriate tasks by themselves. Give them an option to choose tasks. For example: choose between learning music or doing an art class. Making choices helps them to feel empowered.
Exposure to variety: Give them an array of activities to see what excites them. If a child enjoys their interest, they are likely to make it their “driving force”. The more options they explore, the better they will be at acknowledging their innate tendencies.
Focus on experience: Don’t only be outcome oriented be process oriented. As parents, highlight their efforts and appreciate their involvement rather than their shortcomings. If your child loses a football match, rather than criticizing, recognize their hard work.
Now coming back to our opening example, putting conditions makes them conditional. Soon enough they will become conditional with you. “Let me watch television if you want me to study!!”
And what about materialistic reinforcers? Of course! Some things in moderation are always good. Follow variable ratio reinforcement schedule. Basically, reinforcement is provided at random and unpredictable times instead of any pattern. It’s completely random. This approach is more effective. It is important to understand that there are few things that kids universally may not enjoy, such as doing homework, studies, and doing chores. It is ok for them to have reluctance towards them. Accept it and work with it! Don’t fight and make comparisons.
Mansi M Doshi
Licensed Clinical Psychological and Psychotherapist. She is the founder of “Cognitive Balance”, the center for emotional well-being and mental health. She has been the infield of psychology for the past 18 years. She has also done her specialization in Play therapy from the British Association of Play therapist and Mayo Clinic (USA). She has been associated with various schools, children, and adults in handling emotional, behavioral, and learning concerns.
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