Motivate your child to achieve success at school with these tips for parents from psychologist Justin Coulson.
The request to “Wake up for school please Ashton” was met with a groan.
“I don’t want to go to school mum.”
Most parents will experience a child who is not motivated to be at school at some point in their lives. Many parents were that child!
Trying to stimulate your child’s motivation at school is extremely difficult for parents, primarily because so much of what happens at school is out of your control. The environment provided by the teacher, other students, and the school community can have a powerful impact on your child’s level of motivation. There are, however, several things that parents can do to increase their child’s motivation at school:
Remember, relationships matter
Encourage your child to develop positive relationships with other students at school. If the peer environment is one that is safe, fun, and comfortable, then your child will be more motivated to be at school than if bullying or teasing is common place.
Your child’s relationship with the teacher should be positive
Look for ways to speak with your child about what the teacher is doing well, and the positive aspects of the student-teacher relationship. By building a positive perspective on classroom relations, children are likely to be more motivated at school.
Speak positively about the school
When our children hear us openly criticise school, the teachers, or the principal, we undermine their faith and confidence in the people who are influencing and teaching them each day. Look for things that the teacher or school are doing well, and emphasise them publicly. When your children hear you speaking positively about their school, they will experience your enthusiasm as an endorsement and respond accordingly.
Encourage mastery and mistakes, not performance and perfection
Developing competence requires practice, mistakes, and a long-term approach to mastery. If you’ve ever had a boss watching over your shoulder you will know how your focus on perfect performance can cause you to unravel. It also probably reduced your motivation! When children know they will not be judged on their performance, they feel free to experiment, make mistakes, and try again. By reducing pressure for perfect performance learning becomes an enjoyable process, and motivation goes up.
When your child brings home a report card (or when any evaluation is occurring in relation to schoolwork), emphasise the effort that they’re making over the results they’re achieving. Ask questions such as, “Do you feel like you’re working hard?” Point out what a teacher says about your child’s effort and ask, “Is your teacher right about this? Are you putting in less effort than you can?” Emphasise that you care more about effort than outcomes.
Share your child’s successes
When your child demonstrates competence, let him/her hear you telling other people about what was accomplished.
“Ella has been making such a big effort at school, and today she received an award for it.”
“Jack got 22 out of 25 on his weather project.”
“Matt just did his first serious high school exam. I’ve never seen him put in so much effort before. We still don’t know what he scored, but I’m so proud of him for working so hard.”
By telling people about the successes your child experiences, and by finding the good in what they do, your child will be more motivated to continue to work hard, practice, and develop good academic outcomes.
This article was written for Kidspot by Justin Coulson, Ph. D. Justin is a relationships and parenting expert, author and father of five children. Find him at happyfamilies.com.au.
Do you struggle to get your child out of bed in the morning for school?