unmotivated child

How to Motivate Your Unmotivated Child: Part 1

“School is so boring.”

“I don’t feel like doing anything.”

“I don’t want to go, I’d rather play Xbox.”

“I just don’t care.”

“It’s too hard. I’m quitting.”

I’ve heard some of those things from my kids over the years. Have you?  Words like these indicate a lack of motivation. So, what should you do? Well, author Joe White provided me some invaluable insight in putting together this list. Here are the first 3 ways to motivate your unmotivated child.

1. Have realistic expectations of your child.

Not every child will make straight A’s or start on their sports team. Not every child will go to college and get their MBA.  “Type A” driven moms, and dads like me, need to be really careful not to impose their personalities on their children and expect they will be just like us. Also, we should not try to make our dreams, their dreams.

2. Be a model of motivation.

Your personal example is key to motivating your child. If you are glued to the tube, you can’t expect your child to want to go out in the back yard and play sports. If you constantly complain about work, what message is that sending to your child? Your child needs to see you loving your work, exercising, and celebrating goals achieved. [Tweet This5 Ways Parents Can Be a Role Model for Kids will help you to be the best model you can be for your kids.

3. Make sure your child breaks a mental and physical “sweat.”

Your child may think, “Why do chores when the housekeeper will do them?” Or, no need to mow the lawn. We’ve got a lawn guy to do it.” Or, “Why should I write the paper when mom will do it for me?” 5 Reasons Your Child Should Work explains the importance of work. A well-developed and motivated child needs to do some physical labor around the house. He also needs to learn how to think on his own.

Sound Off

What do you think unmotivated kids need most from their dad?

Mark W. Merrill

Mark is the president of All Pro Dad and Family First , a national non-profit organization. He is also the voice of a daily radio program called The Family Minute.

  • RyDaddy

    My wife and I were JUST having this conversation again about how to go about motivating the kids! To be honest, though, the list above is less than impressive. Here’s what we have done and the effects we saw.
    1) Allowance; works for one kid, but only if there is something he actively wants to buy. The other never spends her money, so when the piggy bank is full, she feels no need to earn more.
    2) Threats; gets 1 specific job done with maximized whining and minimized efficiency.
    3) Demonstrating motivation; I think the kids just think, “Why should I do it when dad will do it eventually if I wait him out?”
    4) Demonstrating the eventual result of a lack of motivation, i.e., “See, you have no clean clothes to wear now because to refuse to ever do any laundry!” “You’ll have to eat off dirty dishes or clean yourself a plate and glass for dinner because you have refused to do any dishes ahead of time.” “If you want your bed made just precisely the way you like it, you need to make it yourself.” Works for my daughter, but my son revels in being dirty and grossing out his mother and sister by stinking to high heaven and eating on dirty dishes…

    So no one-size-fits-all solution has been devised yet…

    • Yes, RyDaddy it’s not a one size fits all solution. As parents we have our children’s best interests at heart and motivating them comes from our heart as well. Different children are motivated different ways so finding the right fit for your family is important, and it’s coming from a place of love.

  • Chris Davis

    I agree with everything except (in part) “Your child needs to see you loving your work”. I slightly know what you mean but I do not love my job. I also tell my children all the time that there are things about my job I don’t like (let alone love) and that in life you need to accept the “good with the bad” when you are dealing with other people or projects. I do tell them that even though I don’t love my job I love them very much and that is motivation enough for me to get up everyday, go to work, and put up with things that may not go well. So…my love for them and my wife creates encouragement for me and also helps me see my job as a tool for providing for them (who I love and NOT my job). As it relates to them, I know they don’t love school, chores, or other “boring” activities” (by the way, they call it boring not me or my wife) BUT they do love me and their mom. They also like having a clean bathroom, eating out of clean dishes, wearing clean clothes, or seeing good grades on their report cards. Well, they have to do “boring stuff” like washing dishes and clothes, cleaning the bathroom, or studying and doing homework to see those types of results. My wife and I tell them all the time that the outcome should motivate them and (if that isn’t enough) their love for us should…just like my love for them helps me get up and go to a job I don’t like (or love).

  • Mike Launikitis

    Hi Mark. I was wondering if you are going to respond to your readers replies? Thanks. Mike

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