Motivating A Demotivated Child

Many children go through periods of demotivation. Maybe they have been getting poor grades at school. Perhaps they are naturally not as focused on outcomes and performance as you might wish them to be. Getting them to do homework, and do it well, can become a constant battle. How can you turn this behaviour around?

  • The most important thing to remember is that change rarely happens overnight, so to tackle this situation, you will need patience and sticking power. The next most important reminder is that their refusal to co-operate with you is a sign that they do have motivation – but at the moment, it is translating into resistance – against you or another situation in which they do not feel they have control. The trick is not to let this descend into a power struggle: that way, neither side wins.
  • To address the problem, do not get mad and shout. Instead, try active listening. If the issue is failure to complete homework on time, engage with your child to discover why. Are they struggling with the subject or do they just find it boring? Either way, talking it through opens up more positive lines of communication. Your child will feel like their opinion and feelings matter. And once you have been able to identify the issue, you’re far better placed to address it!
  • Whatever the problem is, discuss ways of tackling it and take on board your child’s suggestions. Failure to do homework is often a sign that your child is struggling to understand a particular subject or topic. Perhaps they are finding it hard to get to grips with essay technique or a maths concept. Seek new ways of learning – the internet is a great resource here. If the subject matter is considered boring, look for local resources that may help enliven it – a trip to the museum to look at relevant displays for history topics, for example. A spell of tutoring outside of the school environment may even be productive in helping them catch up with their peers.
  • Acknowledge and praise every success, no matter how small. Whether that’s a good mark on a particular piece of work or getting ready in time for school without being nagged, telling them you appreciate the effort they have made and that you are proud of them can help reinforce good behaviours.
  • Make sure they have all the resources they need at home to complete assignments. Does your child have a quiet place to study? Can they suggest changes that will improve it, such as decorating it with posters, investing in new coloured pens and folders or even finding a more comfortable chair?

Small changes such as these really can make a big difference. But if you can keep your cool and listen to your child, you’re well on the way to empowering them to make the changes needed to create success.


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