Ultimately, all parents want their children to be self-motivated to make good choices, that’s why we want to share with you some tips for how to motivate your child to do what’s right.
Parenting expert and guru Dr. Scott Turansky says it boils down to teaching our children to choose to do what is right instead of what is easy. Dr. Turansky says that happens when our kids develop internal motivation rather than relying on external motivation.
Developing internal motivation in children is one of the fast tracks to help them toward maturity and being responsible. Unfortunately, too many parents use external motivators to get their kids to move forward. “If you get your homework done, you can go out and play.” “If you clean your room, you can watch a video.” This approach basically says,“If you do what I say, I’ll give you what you want.” Unfortunately, children trained this way often develop a mentality that focuses on external motivation instead of developing the internal motivations they’ll need to be responsible and mature.
Here are Dr. Turansky’s tips for how to motivate your child to do what’s right using internal motivation.
Unfortunately, you can’t force children to change their hearts. But you can do a lot to motivate them in the right direction. Here’s one approach that works well.
Use sorrow instead of anger in the discipline process.
Ann illustrated this well. She went out her front door to find that her eleven-year-old son had dropped his bike too close to the flower bed, damaging some of her flowers. Her first reaction was anger, and she started imagining what consequence she’d give him. After taking a few deep breaths, Ann decided on a different approach.
Give your child the chance to react correctly.
In the example we started with, Ann calmed herself, went into the house, found her son, and with a flower in her hand, she said, “I’m so sad. I really liked this flower, but your bike landed on it, and now it’s broken.” She then turned and left the room. A few moments later, her son came to her and said, “Mom, I’m sorry about the flowers. I know they’re important to you. I’ll be more careful with my bike next time.” Mom was surprised. Usually, her son would brace for her anger and immediately start defending himself. Ann was pleased that this time he was more responsive.
Don’t guilt trip your children.
Parents who misuse this technique often lay a guilt trip on their children. The key is to be genuine. If you, as a parent, look past your anger for a moment, you’ll see that you truly are sad about what your child has done because you know the long-term consequences of such behavior. Reflect it in a gentle way. Sorrow opens doors of relationship, whereas anger builds walls.
Taken from Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who do What They Need to Do Without Being Told. Dr. Scott Turansky is an author and speaker known for his heartfelt parenting approach. He offers moms practical, real-life advice for many of parenting’s greatest challenges and is the founder of the National Center for Biblical Parenting.