Motivation, or the lack thereof, can be a (seemingly) insurmountable barrier to your child’s success.
Every parent wants their child to succeed.
Whether it’s with their schoolwork, socialising or general life skills, we all want the best for them.
And what do most of us do naturally to spur our kids on?
We praise them for being “smart”, “intelligent”, “bright”, “talented”, “creative” and so on…
And often we do this regardless of whether or not they have truly applied their best efforts to the task at hand.
You see, we think that we are somehow boosting their self-confidence and self-esteem by doing this.
But we are wrong.
In “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids“, published in Scientific American, eminent research psychologist Carol Dweck explains how parents can help kids be successful by NOT praising for ability or outcome but instead praising for EFFORT.
This is known as encouraging a “GROWTH MINDSET” vs a “FIXED MINDSET”.
From the article:
“Many people assume that superior intelligence or ability is a key to success. But more than three decades of research shows that an overemphasis on intellect or talent—and the implication that such traits are innate and fixed—leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unmotivated to learn.
Teaching people to have a “growth mind-set,” which encourages a focus on “process” rather than on intelligence or talent, produces high achievers in school and in life.
Parents and teachers can engender a growth mind-set in children by praising them for their persistence or strategies (rather than for their intelligence), by telling success stories that emphasize hard work and love of learning, and by teaching them about the brain as a learning machine.”
The article encourages parents to instead support their child’s autonomy. That is … encourage and support them to achieve their own successes.
How to apply this?
Get your child to think…
What do they want to achieve?
What is important to them?
What would they like to create?
Then encourage them to go for it. Don’t do it for them… but stick with them for the journey. Let them know what whether they succeed or fail, you are there for them.
Studies show that kids feel more successful when they are loved unconditionally (instead of being forced to ‘win’ approval).
And, most importantly, praise them for their EFFORT, DEDICATION and PERSISTENCE… far more than just results.
The reason this works is because your child has total control over their level of effort.
On the other hand, they have zero control over their innate talent or ability.
Yet the truth is … hard work combined with moderate ability nearly always beats lazy effort plus natural talent.
So when your child associates positive emotions with their genuine effort?
They will start to feel that they have control over being successful.
And when kids FEEL successful, they tend to BE more successful.
Success breeds success in a virtuous cycle.
And that’s the real secret to helping them find their own motivation to do their best at school and in life.