Why you Can't Get your Child Motivated about School
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Why you can’t get your child motivated - Episode 030
Motivation and your Child: A few things to Consider
The topic of motivation has been coming up a lot lately – maybe it’s because I’ve been searching for motivation, and the universe is telling people to come at me and let’s talk motivation.
We are going to dig a bit deeper into motivation. Why do we expect to magically appear?
As we’re getting to the end of the year, I start to get an influx of parents inquiring about academic coaching. That might be part of why this word – motivation – has been coming up recently, but they’re not the first parents to say “I want my kid to be motivated” and to ask how to make that happen. And they’re not going to be the last.
I’ve been hearing this question forever. As a parent, you want your kid to be motivated to do school. Especially when school is the thing they are surrounded by for 7-8 hours a day, five days a week, for most of the school year. So if you aren’t seeing your kiddo or your student motivated for like, if you add in homework, 50 percent of the day, you’re like “What the heck?!”
What is Motivation
So I’m going to the OG of sources – that’s the original gangster, for those who don’t speak the lingo of the youngers. That would be the dictionary.
I’m building my new course to be released this summer and I’ve had to rely on the dictionary quite a bit. Let’s look at the definition of motivation: “The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.”
The second definition, the throw away definition: “The general desire or willingness of someone to do something. “
I don’t like that second, tacked on definition, because I think that’s where we get caught up. If we have motivation, we have a desire or willingness to do something. There is something wrong with us if we don’t want to do the dishes or make our bed or do homework for 50 hours in a class we have no interest in, and the teacher doesn’t like us, and we’re bored.
Why is there something wrong with me if I do not have the desire to do something torturous? If your immediate kickback response is “Well, we all have to do things we don’t like,” that’s completely true. But that’s sucking it up and putting on our big boy pants. That’s not motivation. At least not based on this definition.
Even if I dislike this tag-on definition of “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something,” let’s just say here a minute longer, because this is the one people like to wrap their minds around – if we as parents, or you as educators, are looking for kiddos to be motivated and like to do something – maybe they’re motivated in tons of ways, just not the one area you’re expecting them to.
Let’s take a moment and pause, and think about the things and events in our lives when we’ve been accused of not being motivated. Did you actually want to do the thing that we were being accused of not being motivated about? Were there thousands of other things in our lives that we had really awesome motivation for that people just didn’t get?
Do your kiddos exhibit motivation in other areas of their lives? Do they have a desire to do something like sports, theater or gaming? Talking on the phone, or drawing? These may or may not be the areas you want them to show motivation in, but are they in fact motivated human beings, just not in what we want them to be motivated in?
It’s like something I was reading, but it had an example where the person said “I just want him to want to do the dishes.”
That’s what their entire marriage was staked on – that she wanted her husband to want to do the dishes. Can you actually make someone want to do the dishes?
If you want to spend your whole life trying to make someone want to do the dishes, that’s your jam. I’m not going to stop you. Maybe what their relationship was missing out on was the fact that that person wasn’t appreciating the fact that their husband was doing the dishes even though they had no desire to do them.
Explore why your Child isn’t Motivated
You can take your kiddo’s entire life and try to make them want to do school. Maybe we need to just start looking and appreciating that they’re doing it at all. That goes back to the very first definition that we had about motivation: “The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.”
That’s where I think, if we start to get curious, we can start to understand where our kiddos are coming from.
Questions to Consider
What aren’t they getting from school that’s causing them to not have a general desire or willingness to do it?
Is there a reason they are rejecting English classes, but they love going to math?
Is there a reason that your child hates math, but for some reason this year, is really excited to go every day? Is it the teacher? Is it something that teacher is giving them that’s driving them to push forward?
Are they having a human connection at school?
Is the reason they’re not motivated because they’re afraid of failing?
Is the reason they are motivated because they want to become a doctor or want to play basketball at a particular school?
Are they not motivated because they feel they’re not getting a fair shake?
Motivation is not something they can be handed over in a box and “poof! Here we go!”
My job as a coach is not to smack your kid over the head with the motivation stick and say “Yay! They love school.”
Your kiddo may never love school, but we do find the moments of joy, learn to tolerate the moments of not joy, and celebrate the moments where they do have motivation. I’m willing to bet your kiddo isn’t a lump of disinterest molding into the carpet. If they are, we might wanna explore that maybe something else is going on.
I’m willing to bet that they have interests and passions that they’re trying to explore on their own, outside of school. We want kiddos to have interests outside of school. So, before we say “My kiddo has no motivation,” I’m willing to bet that’s not true. They do have motivation, it’s just not in the area of their life that they have to spend all day doing.
Trust me, as a parent I want my kiddo to be motivated to do school work. I don’t want them to be wasting seven hours a day. School’s the thing they’re supposed to do. The thing we had to do. Like “Please do the thing every normal human being has to do.”
I can guarantee you’re not the only parent in this place. As a parent, you have to smash this idea that every other kiddo is motivated to love school. That’s just not true. Then we have to start appreciating the things they are motivated to do. When we star t to pick up and appreciate those things, that’s when we start to think “Oh, okay. My kid’s not broken. They are actually motivated human beings. So why aren’t they feeling that same passion toward school? Is there anything we can do to change that?”
If not, how can we get through it? What would be a real shame is sitting in a building seven hours a day, every day waiting for the day to pass, and the next, and the next for 12 years, because it doesn’t have to be that way.
Questions to explore about motivation
Understanding homework motivation
Marni Pasch| Host of School Counselor Gone Rogue| Academic Coach | Team Pasch Academic Coaching
I work with students in grades 6th and higher, who struggle with academic confidence and motivation. I help them survive school with less stress by helping them create concrete goals, tackle procrastination and learn creative study techniques. I empower students to take charge of their education and reach their goals. I do this through individual or group coaching so students achieve success in life, school, career readiness and their social endeavors.