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3 Ways to Motivate a Child or Teenager

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3 Ways to Motivate a Child or Teenager

Are you having trouble getting your kids off the couch? Do you want your children to make better grades in school? Be more physically active? Join a sports team? Or participate in a service project?

Motivating a child or teenager isn’t always easy, but if you follow the three steps below you are almost guaranteed to discover a whole new child:

  1. Use a reward system. Kids are always being told what they are doing wrong, but very rarely are they being told daily what they are doing right. All people, kids and adults, are far more motivated to “do the right thing” when there is a positive reward for their work.

Tip:

  • Make 50 “tickets” out of paper, or buy a bundle of tickets at your local store.
  • Sit down with your kids and ask them what would be 5 exciting things for them to do (go to a movie, go out for ice cream, their favorite restaurant, an amusement park, etc…).
  • Then share with them a specific “reward system” (each time you see them put their dirty clothes away without being asked, they get a ticket. If they get an improved grade in any class, they get 10 tickets. For every 30 minutes they kick a ball or do any physical activity, they get 5 tickets. Etc…
  • Don’t punish or criticize your kids for anything for the next several weeks. Only reward them for the things they do well. And do your best to find many things they are doing well.
  • Follow through with your rewards – and have a blast.

2. Turn off all electronics. Yes, you read this correctly. Televisions, video games, iPods, cell phones and computers are the #1 reason kids are sucked into the black hole of entertainment and have zero motivation to accomplish…just about anything. Use the TV and video games as rewards after your children have accomplished a goal. Your kids will declare war on you the first few weeks you pull the plugs, but it only takes 21 days to form new habits. And sooner than later your children will discover that reading a book, riding a bicycle, painting, swinging a tennis racquet, good grades and service projects are a lot of fun. Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, says “The average child these days spends over 20 hours watching television, but only minutes spending quality time with their parents.” Do what you can to avoid contributing to this statistic.

3. Be the leader. Show don’t tell. How do you expect your child to be motivated to get off the couch and ride a bicycle if you are not riding a bicycle yourself? If you want your kids to be more physically active, take them straight to a park after school and kick a ball with them. You are the leader of your family. It is up to you to set the tone and be the best example of what a positive attitude and motivation looks like.

Every child and teenager is motivated to do something. It is the parent’s job to bring the best out of them. By eliminating distractions (electronics), rewarding their efforts and by leading by example you are guaranteed to see change in your children. Change doesn’t happen overnight. So be patient. Be positive. And never give up on your kids.

Kate Raidt Kate Raidt is author of The Million-Dollar Parent: How to Have a Successful Career While Keeping Family a Top Priority and founder of advantage4parents.com. She is also an alumnus of the Southwestern Company's summer work program. Kate is also the mother of two young children.
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