How To Motivate Unmotivated Kids

How To Motivate Unmotivated Kids

“Just do it,” as Nike says is catchy but most people don’t become highly motivated by a picture and an inspirational saying. If that worked, I would not hear from parents, “My child is unmotivated and lazy.”  Why are some kids so difficult to motivate? Does your child get too much screen time or is it the absence of recreational programs due to COVID?  Does your child have a developmental problem?  Maybe it’s just that many kids in our area live in the land of entitlement.

Start at Home

Start at home if you want your child to be a motivated self-starter. Give your child age appropriate responsibilities rather than doing tasks yourself just because it’s easier as compared to nagging your child. Kids feel better about themselves when they feel like they are contributing to the family. Regardless of your child’s age, start now. Ask yourself, “What am I doing for my child that he or she needs to do for him or herself?”  Make a short list and then have a sit down to discuss your child’s new responsibilities.

Motivate with Prestige, Power, Praise

Most parents try to motivate their child using incentives including toys, screen time, or events such as a play date.  While that works for some children, other kids are motivated by either prestige, power, or praise.

If your child is motivated by prestige, then reward him for a job well done with a best kid award to put on the refrigerator, a public compliment in front of friends, or something that makes him feel prestigious.  If she is motivated by power, give her choices.  “When your work is done, you can do this or this. Which one do you prefer?”  Or say, “When the work is done, you get to pick the restaurant for dinner.”  If praise motivates your child, lavish authentic verbal praise upon him.  If he had great behavior at school, verbally praise him and then place a praise note in his lunchbox so the praise encourages another great day.  Motivating kids occurs in small steps and motivators change with time.  Check out Rick Lavoie’s book, “The Motivation Breakthrough.”