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Articles by Dr. Scott Turansky

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Dr. Scott Turansky

Dr. Scott Turansky offers moms practical, real-life advice for many of parenting’s greatest challenges. read bio

The Unmotivated Child

Unmotivated children are generally passive, cooperative, flexible, easygoing, and accommodating.  These children may be easier to get along with because they lack the drive of strong-willed people.  Still, even unmotivated children can be strong willed sometimes; it's just not their general tendency.

Marcus is content to let others lead.  When his friend George comes over to play, Marcus lets him pick the game and decide when they'll move on to something else. George tells Marcus what to do, and Marcus seems content to follow along.  Mom, who's rather strong-willed herself, feels uncomfortable with the situation.  She wishes Marcus would be the leader.  Marcus needs to learn to lead at times, especially if George wants to do something that is wrong, but Mom need to let Marcus be Marcus.  She may need to adjust her expectations, recognizing that her son's personality strengths are different from hers.

Unmotivated children may seem easier to raise, but parents also struggle with these kids at times.  They may not have the fortitude to stand up for themselves, withstand temptation, or push hard to complete a task.  They're sometimes people-pleasers and may be easily directed in positive or negative ways, depending on who they're with.  Interestingly enough, when it comes to defiance, these kids may be just as stubborn as strong-willed children.

One day, Marcus decides he doesn't want to play with George anymore.  As Mom discusses the issue with Marcus, she discovers his frustration is motivating him to give up.  In fact, he does this regularly.  If he doesn't get what he wants easily, he moves on to something else.  Mom helps Marcus understand he should challenge George sometimes.  She begins to equip her son with strategies and ideas and even coaches him to gently stand up for himself while George is over.  Once Marcus puts his mom's ideas into practice, the boys play nicely more often and Marcus has a good time.

In the same way strong-willed children need stronger fences in their lives, unmotivated children often need the brush cleared off their paths of life.  Children who tend to give up easily need help to see the path more clearly so they can take steps necessary for success.

Used with permission from the book Parenting is Heart Work by Scott Turansky, D.Min. and Joanne Miller, R.N., B.S.N (Effective Parenting, Inc.).

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