If you’re having trouble motivating your child, you’re not alone. Sometimes, we all need a little help to get through those tedious tasks. If you find yourself struggling to motivate your child, here are five simple strategies that you can try:
TIP 1: Break it up
Have you ever heard the saying ‘there’s only one way to eat an elephant, one bite at a time’? Conquering a tedious task can seem overwhelming for some children. Try breaking up that task into bite-sized steps. Say your child is struggling to get started on homework, start with the first few questions instead of getting it all done in one sitting. Instead asking your child to clean their room, start with something easy like “‘Can you pick up your clothes first?’ Whatever the task may be, breaking it up will make it less daunting for everyone!
TIP 2: Set up the environment
Distractions are enemies to productivity, especially for growing children who haven’t yet developed self-discipline. Set up the environment so that completing the task is inevitable. This may mean limiting access to screen time, removing toys from common areas, or even having siblings in different spaces. Find out what are the distractors in your home and how you can make the environment a more focused space for your children.
TIP 3: Give choices
Speaking of options, sometimes giving your child some autonomy is motivating. Being told what to do is not always fun, especially when it cuts into tv time or video gaming. Give your child some options like “Would you rather help me load the dishes or clear the dining table today?” You can even offer the option of when to complete the task, such as “Do you want to do your homework before or after soccer practice?” Giving children the freedom to choose creates a sense of ease with the task.
TIP 4: Praise your child (but be specific!)
We’ve all heard things like “good job” or “well done,” which are nice to hear but don’t say much about what exactly was “good.” Get in the habit of highlighting what stood out to you. Instead saying “nice work!” you can say “I love all the colours you used!” Other statements like “you got ready so quickly” or “you tried everything on your plate!” are specific to what you’re pleased with. When said with sincerity, you’ll increase the chances that your child repeats what you’ve praised them for.
TIP 5: Consider Rewards
If all else fails, consider using rewards as a way to incentivize the task. Using this method can be a quick and powerful way to motivate your child. Rewards can also be fun activities already accessible in your day. Let’s say your child plans to meet their neighbor after school, a statement like “Take a bath before seeing your friend” is a simple way you can use a fun activity to get them through a tedious task. Tokens are also a great way to motivate your child without breaking the bank. They can be earned by doing those not-so-fun chores and exchanged for something as small as stickers to as big as tickets to a hockey game —it’s up to you!
If you’re still struggling to motivate your child, put yourself in their shoes. Live out their day and ask yourself, “Why is this task so difficult for my child?” Is it that it’s boring, hard, or coming at an inconvenient time of day? By empathizing with them, you might just be able to find the solution.
If you have any specific questions or would like expert advice, reach out to us for a consultation our Board Certified Behaviour Analyst for behaviour consulting services.
About the author:
Nathalie is passionate Board Certified Behaviour Analyst who holds a Masters of Professional Education and has been working with The Open Door for over five years, and has been working with children with special learning needs for seven years. Her education and experience as a behaviour therapist has allowed her to help children overcome barriers to learning and wellbeing. Nathalie uses evidence-based strategies derived from Applied Behaviour Analysis to help children and parents live a more meaningful life. She is excited to continue helping families through behaviour consulting services with The Open Door!