It's hard to make children do what's good for them when they've got other ideas. Author and psychotherapist Gael Lindenfield shows how pressing the right buttons can make a lasting contribution to your child's wellbeing。
Physical force or threats may make children do as they're told in the short term but their compliance will last only as long as the threat is relevant. Then they will go back to doing what they wanted to do in the first place。
The parental approval ploy--"Mummy will be so pleased" or "Daddy would be so proud of you"--may have limited success when they're small but it won't work on teenagers, whose strongest motivation is parental disapproval. This sort of eager-to-please passivity is not likely to impress a future boss looking for a go-getter。
However, there are ways to build and boost their self-motivation in a way that will be as beneficial to you as to them. Here are some tips on how to help your children want to do what they need to do:
1 Constantly remind them they deserve success--self-esteem is at the heart of self-motivation but remember, your love is not enough. They have to act in a loving way towards themselves so make them aware of behaviour and habits that are self-destructive and self-sabotaging。
2 Fire up their curiosity and excitement about life by extending their horizons--take them on adventures to new places and ensure they meet as many different kinds of people as possible to broaden their outlook。
3 Encourage them to pursue realistic dreams--and make sure these are kept alive and believable. For example, get books or videos or cut out articles about people doing what they want to do, or find a way for them to meet them or write to them. Most successful adults will willingly make time to inspire children who want to be like them。
4 Use "pull" not" push" to help them make hard choices and don't let your own fear of the unknown dictate what your children should or shouldn't do. Help them to find out what they really want and what is most likely to work by teaching them decision-making techniques. You can't make all their decisions for them and although you don't always approve or agree with what they want to do, you must be prepared to stand by them and offer support。
5 Encourage them to be self-forgiving when they make mistakes--help them to see what they have learned from them and what you have learned from yours. Challenge their negative talk and make sure you're not too stressed to see the "silver lining", too。
6 Make the celebrity culture work for you and them--keep abreast of their current heroes. If they don't know much about them, do some research together to see what has helped them become successful and stay motivated. Magazines and the Internet are full of interviews and stories about how famous people " made it". You can then refer back to this meaningful wisdom when the going gets tough. For example:" David Beckham didn't get where he is today by staying up all night playing computer games," or" Kylie Minogue is so attractive because she smiles all the time."
7 Encourage them to be self-reflective when they get it right -- help them to think about the hows and whys. Reminding them of things they have done well in the past may also help. For example:"You seemed to have no trouble getting down to that essay. I wonder why it was easier for you to do your homework this week?" Or:" Do you remember during the exams last term, you found thinking positively and not panicking really seemed to help you?"
8 Hold back on negative criticism until they have made their own assessment. For example:"Do you think putting yourself down all the time is motivating you?" is better than saying:"You shouldn't put yourself down -- it doesn't help." Similarly:" Do you think you have lost interest partly because you are so tired?" is preferable to: " If you got to bed earlier, you would feel differently."
9 Encourage them to revel in their successes--teach them that celebrating achievements can inspire others and that it can be done in a way that doesn't sound like bragging and doesn't make other people feel small. Don't forget that for developing self-motivation, it is more important to celebrate the smaller milestones than the major achievements--they are naturally more rewarding。