Some Basic Suggestions for Motivation
Start with where the child is to find out reasons for lack of motivation
Try to transfer motivations
Use successive successes– catch them doing something right ?
Use anticipatory praise
Recognize accomplishments and encourage attempts
Frequency in praise is more important than duration or amount
Vary the way you praise
Importance of investing in personal relationships
Though the goal is intrinsic self-motivation we usually must start
with extrinsic motivators
Giving Praise to Children
Children need positive attention in the form of subtle and overt praise. Praise comes in a variety of forms, and should be used to affirm positive intellectual, social, and physical abilities. Follow these seven guidelines on when and how to praise a child.
BE SPECIFIC When your child paints a picture, rather than offering a judgmental form of praise–“beautiful picture”–offer a more detailed description of the child’s work: “Look at all that blue paint on your picture, I love it.” Your specific comment says you took time to notice his work. This form of praise is particularly meaningful to the child.
AFFIRM REALIZED EXPECTATIONS Before you board the plane to visit Grandma, you tell your 3- and 5-year-old children that you have two expectations for the flight: (1) that they keep their seat belts buckled for safety (except when they need to go to the bathroom); and (2) that they whisper so as not to disturb the other passengers. During the flight, as the children adhere to each expectation, praise them: “You’re doing a really good job.” And once you arrive, in earshot of your children, express your pride again to Grandma.
OBSERVE NEW ACCOMPLISHMENTS Your child just learned to ride a two-wheeled bicycle. She runs into the house with the exciting news. In addition to giving verbal praise, “Way to go, I’m proud of you,” go outside and watch your child demonstrate her new skill. Your observing presence underscores your verbal, “good job.”
PRAISE BABY STEPS TO ACCOMPLISHMENT The first time your child writes his name, any gross approximation deserves a posting on the refrigerator. Don’t wait for perfection to deliver a dose of praise. Say, “I see you wrote your name, let’s put it on the refrigerator for everyone to see.” Notice that you’re not saying “I’m proud of you”; your child will nevertheless feel your pride from your action.
And please realize, this is not the time to point out a backwards “b” or an uncrossed “t”–that would be criticism. Wait until the next written attempt to try teaching your child the correct letters. Even though the first printing wasn’t perfect, with the parents’ recognition of the effort, the child just naturally works to improve. That’s the magic of praise.
NOTICE APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR FIRST Your child is learning to dress herself; she’s completed the task except for her shoes. How do you respond? Tell her, “You’re dressed: You put on your underwear, shirt, pants, and socks. Good for you.” Pause and then say, “Don’t forget your shoes.” The parenting adage goes as follows: First notice what a child is doing that’s correct, right now; then point out what she needs to do next to complete a task.
OFFER UNCONDITIONAL PRAISE In addition to celebrating your child for the appropriate behaviors she exhibits and tasks she accomplishes, don’t forget to honor her for absolutely no reason. Out of the blue, tell her, “I’m glad you’re my kid.” And when you’ve had a tough day of parenting, close it with, “Sometimes I get angry for what you do, but I always love you.”
GIVE PRAISE THAT SERVES YOUR CHILD’S PURPOSE The most meaningful kind of praise a parent can deliver comes when a child is trying to accomplish a task that is part of her developmental repertoire: an infant banging an overhead toy, a toddler learning to stack blocks, a preschooler diligently trying to dress himself, a school-aged child mastering multiplication, a teenager managing the responsibility of driving.