“He just doesn’t want to do anything.” “Getting my kid to do anything beside computer games is like pulling teeth.” I deal with this sort of stuff PLENTY in my home. Here are three approaches to consider when handling an unmotivated kid:
Tiger Mom approach. You’ve certainly heard about her by now. This method commands absolute obedience…nothing less! Tools for this approach include: yelling, threats and a little ridicule thrown in if that Mother’s Day card doesn’t measure up.
Shortcomings with this approach? You’ve got well trained monkeys but you’ve lost their heart. Mom becomes a drill sergeant instead of a mom. And Mom, if she doesn’t already have control-freak tendencies, will certainly foster this trait in a strong way. (Bonus points if mom develops an anxiety disorder.)
Competition. Homeschool mom’s are especially good at this one. Be sure and remind your kids of how other kids are faring. Dangle rewards for achievements. Shame comes in handy for this one if the kid doesn’t measure up.
This one may produce short term effects but what happens when they still have no internal motivation.? You take away the reward…they lose their motivation.
True, life DOES offer rewards and sometimes accomplishment is its own reward. But remember…Kids are kids and they don’t have the perspective you and I have as adults. On the other hand, when was the last time YOU were rewarded for cleaning house and preparing a meal? Yeah…more often than not, life isn’t waiting to offer you a gold star.
Is there a better way?
Here’s my favorite one:
An invitation. I like to think of this as simply getting out of the way. Give your child a platform. Give them an opportunity to rise to the top. Instead of trying to manipulate their behavior…cast a vision before them.
For example, Molly’s piano practice has slacked off considerably. A Tiger Mom I am not…I got other hills on which to die. But she heard of a Teen Open Mic night at a local business. And 3 hour practice sessions were soon happening. (And she performed beautifully.)
Okay, I hear all that opposition yelling. No, I haven’t been smoking dope (even though it IS legal here in Montana.)
Your kid is not going to wake up overnight with a new vision for self government. ESPECIALLY if they’re used to being told what to do all the time in school. Go ahead…do something radical…give them TIME. Time to sort out what makes them come alive. Time to develop some creative ideas and concoct a wild plan to bike across the state. Time to dream! (Pssst- It’s helpful to have an “electronics-free” week once in a while.)
I love this approach because it embraces one of my favorite education quotes: Education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire. Keats
Q: What approaches have you tried in your home?
Filed under: education, family life, Free Range Education, homeschooling, Personal development, The Mother Lode Project | Tagged: motivating kids, Tiger Mom, Tiger Mom approach to parenting | 1 Comment »