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  • Dr Linda Papadopoulos

5 tips to keep kids motivated


1. Set clear goals: Kids respond really well to clarity; the more they understand expectations and how to achieve them, the more likely they are to be able to follow through. So sit down with your child and come up with simple, clear goals. The process of discussing goals and agreeing on them together will make them feel more invested in the process and will serve to keep them motivated.

2. Make a plan of action: Make a tangible plan of action: something that they can see like a chart or diary. So for example, if you want to ensure they are at their computer learning by a certain time each morning, break this down into each step i.e. the time they wake up, the time it takes to get dressed and be ready for breakfast and the time they need to sit down at their desk by. For each step, acknowledge when they manage it- and when they don't, discuss it. It may mean they next extra time or support for something and you can adjust accordingly.

3. Have realistic expectations: You want to make sure that you set up your child for success, as the confidence that they will gain from achieving a goal can create a positive mental cycle. This means having realistic expectations. Remember you can always add to and extend these as they become more self sufficient but to start with, make sure that what they are aiming for is achievable.

4. Make sure to tell them when they are doing well: One of the things that we often do as parents is we focus on negative behaviour and forget to validate positive behaviour. It can be hugely motivating for a child when a parent notices and comments upon changes that they are making so make sure to do this. In fact, rewarding positive behaviour can be a great motivator so you might say to your child that if they manage to be ready for the school day at the agreed time for a whole week then they will get a reward. This reward again should be something that you agree on together so that they feel invested in it. Whether it's more stories at bed time, more time chatting to friends in the evening or treat they enjoy, working towards something will help keep them focussed.

5. Finally, stay positive: Be aware of your own reactions – children often take cues from adults in their lives, so try to manage your emotions. Be calm, listen, acknowledge their concerns and if they have a bad day, reassure them that this is normal, and that you are there to support them no matter what.

By Psychologist and Author Dr. Linda Papadopoulos

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