Lack of Motivation: Tips to Help Motivate a Child

unmotivated boy looking at phone

Have you ever spent more hours than you should putting off something you hate doing? It has happened to all of us. The truth is that the lack of motivation It is a problem that affects us all, but it is often particularly difficult to treat in children.

The problem is that lack of motivation in children worsens over time and can follow them into adulthood.

It is said that motivation must originate in the heart and that most attempts to motivate children actually demotivate them. While the latter is true, the former has been proven wrong on many occasions. Researchers and psychologists like Carol Dweck have shown that the use of certain words and the adoption of certain practices can help the unmotivated child.

If you find yourself in this situation, surely you have already realized that telling them they “need to work harder” does not increase their motivation. But do not be discouraged, all is not lost. Luckily, years of research on motivation have turned up some helpful strategies that every parent with an unmotivated child should know about:

1. Take an interest in your child's interests

We all like to do things that we find interesting, and children are no different than us. They will be more motivated when they do activities that you like to do.

  • Try to find out what your child's interests are,
  • show him that you care about what he likes, even if it differs from what you would like him to do,
  • find ways to link their interests with the other skills you'd like them to develop. For example, comics can be a great way to practice reading skills and gain new knowledge.

2. Remember that success is an innate desire of all

Most people want to be successful in the activities they undertake. Repeated failure can lead to frustration and discouragement, and can lead to behaviors such as tantrums or even constant anger and anxiety.

Children who are not used to being successful can develop learned helplessness, which means that they can learn to perceive themselves as failures. In other words, the children they may lose their motivation due to a lack of confidence in their ability to achieve specific goals. It is this lack of confidence that drives behaviors such as avoidance, stress, "laziness," and an apathetic attitude.

  • Make sure they have opportunities for success,
  • help him to know how to see everything he does well,
  • sets reasonable goals with challenging but achievable tasks,
  • make sure they know exactly what is expected of them. For example, if they often struggle with a task, try going over that task with them and explaining what the task is expected to accomplish and how to do it.

3. Show him some opportunities that can help motivate him

For example, a child may develop an interest in creating video games after watching videos developed by children their age.

  • Exposing children to the achievements of others in their fields of interest is a good way to motivate them. However, this does not mean comparing your children to others or expecting them to achieve the same goals as others.
  • Other ways to show the success of other children their age is by watching movies, reading books and stories, etc…

4. Don't give them the "pep talk"

One thing that science (and certainly many parents!) has discovered over the years is that "pep talk" rarely works.

  • Instead of focusing on past performance, it is better to focus on future performance: What do you think it can do differently?. If you always do the same thing, you will get the same results.
  • Instead of talking, encourage them to evaluate themselves.

5. Offer encouragement and support.

It is normal to get frustrated when our children show a lack of motivation. Not knowing how to motivate them frustrates us even more! The important point to remember is that there may be several reasons for lack of motivation of children: lack of confidence, lack of participation in decisions that concern them (when to do homework, when to play video games, the consequences of not adhering to expectations, etc.), frustration, disappointment, among others .

  • Everyone experiences failure, and most people experience failure repeatedly before they achieve success. Talk to your children about their own failures. They understand that failure is part of life. Let them know that our failures don't define us, they make us stronger. Talk to your kids about the failures of people who later became great at something.
  • Discuss the positive changes you see in your children, even if those changes don't immediately lead to improvement. If you notice that he tries harder, tell him. If you see them trying harder, acknowledge it. If you notice that he's trying a different approach, let him know you've noticed. I always praise the effort and not the child.

6. Seek professional help for lack of motivation

One thing we rarely hear about children's lack of motivation is that may indicate learning disorders undiagnosed or care-related problems.

  • Certain disorders can manifest themselves in behavior such as lack of motivation, procrastination and great concentration difficulties. The problem with these disorders is that they can lead your child to give up due to constant failure.

Don't hesitate to contact a professional if you feel overwhelmed by your child's lack of motivation. A professional can help you determine whether or not your child has a learning disability or other problems and, more importantly, how can you help that child.

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