As parents, having self-sufficient, self-starter kids who do their work without any need of nagging or threats are the dream of every parent. Unfortunately, teens in general are not like that. They need a lot of prodding and poking to get them to do their homework and house chores. The real fear among parents is that this easy-going attitude will continue into their adult life when they will start higher education and might even lead to difficulty in finding employment.
This is because they are all thinking one common thing, “My child lacks motivation.”
Here’s the thing. They are partially right. Teens in general are a bunch that will not lift a finger if they don’t have to. Nonetheless parents are also responsible for causing this lack of motivation, even if unintentionally, in their kids.
In this article I am going to show you 10 common things parents say and do that demotivate their kids. Have you said any of these to your kids?
1. Using carrots and sticks to motivate
If you have a carrot and stick method of motivating your child, it might be working for you but it will not last long. Such a model works only in the short term. In the future, either your kids will start expecting more rewards or will get used to receiving punishment.
For example, if you tell your kids that they will get 50 rupees for every A they get on their report card they will happily agree. But as they grow older the same reward will not work. They will start demanding more money for the work done.
Similarly if you punish them by removing their TV privileges for a week, they might cry and protest at first but soon they will find other ways of entertaining themselves.
Worst of all, this method does not build any internal motivation in them.
2. Rewarding too often
Another mistake parents often make is that they go overboard. If you reward your kid for acing the final exams or securing first rank in an all India Spelling Bee competition then you’re doing great.
However, if you reward then for fetching you a glass of water or finishing their food on time, you are just teaching them to expect praise for every little thing that they do.
If you fail to praise or reward them, they will be hurt and be less likely to do anything in the future. Short term measures like will only lead to cracks in your relationship.
3. Nag until their ears fall off
This is pretty common isn’t it? As parents we have the tendency to be after our kids telling them to clean up stuff, bring stuff, do stuff and study stuff. Without meaning to, we make this into a habit, of constantly telling them to what to do.
If you daughter is lingering in front of the TV and not sticking her study schedule, your nagging will not make her go study. Instead, she is going to get irritated and watch some more TV.
The intention behind the nagging is of course well-meaning but to our kids, it seems like we do not love them at all when they fail to follow the rules.
A far better approach is to be inspirational in your efforts. Discuss their behaviour in a non-judgemental way and always remember to assure that you love them no matter what.
4. Being the family micromanager
Do you hover over your kids 24 hours in a day watching their every move and deciding how they function in those 24 hours? Then you are a micromanaging parent.
Again, like most parental behaviours, you micromanage because you want them to succeed, not get hurt or fall behind their peers. This is a good strategy in the short term but done over time this builds up resentment and anger in kids towards their parents. This can also rob them of valuable learning experiences.
If you rob them of a chance to fail, you rob them of a chance to learn. Most importantly, this can damage your relationship with your child.
Moreover, micromanaged kids are more likely to rebel and become less motivated over time.
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5. Ignoring their progress
No matter what you might think or what your kids tell you, they care what you think about them. You praise and your disappointment has a strong effect on then. They want you to feel proud about them and encourage them to do better. If you fail to do this, they will seldom feel the motivation to do anything at all.
So praise them. Acknowledge their efforts. Don’t focus on the end result or their talent but appreciate their hard work and commitment.
6. When it comes to household matters, they don’t get a say
If your child is not following house rules, allow them the freedom to make their own rules first.
We often get entangled in teaching them to behave like mature people so much that we forget to treat them like one. One way of ensuring children follow house rules is include them in the conversation.
Ask them how they would like the rules to be set and what kind of restrictions would they be comfortable with so that you can come to a reasonable agreement instead of you dictating every rule. As people, we are less likely to break a rule if we help create it.
7. You fight, you lose
With many parents, getting their kids to agree to do anything becomes a huge task in itself because the kids are not ready to listen to their parents. Every conversation turns into a tug of war with each side trying to dominate the other. As a result, you feel like you have to constantly nag or tell them what to.
But here’s the thing. The more you nag, the more they will rebel and it will eventually lead more such struggles for power. In the end, it is your relationship which gets strained.
It is always the best strategy to inspire rather than telling them what to do.
8. Praising results over effort
This is where 90 per cent of parents go wrong. Of course, at the end of the day we all want our kids to perform well in school and get top grades. But we forget that the road to getting there requires hard and patience from our kids and that is the part we need to encourage. Results will come automatically.
So the next time, do not praise your kid’s talent when he wins a competition or gets an A. Instead appreciate the hard work and effort he put in to get that A and win that prize. This will build a growth mindset and help develop into mature, successful and capable adults in the future.
9. You fail to ask why
From time to time, we feel sad, anxious, nervous or simply numb at the end of the day. We lie around, sleep more or avoid talking to people during those times. It’s completely natural and we understand it. So why don’t we extend the same towards our kids?
As kids grow up, the amount of things they need to focus on increases drastically and by the time they reach teenage, they are dealing with a lot; a lot more than we did in our time. Social media, information overload, social obligations and constantly on their minds. They might have developed bad habits and despite a genuine want to improve, might be unable to help themselves.
Yes, it might not always be the case but it happens 5 times out of 10. When that happens kids feel demotivated, discouraged and worthless. In this time, it is your job as the parent to understand what they are going through and steer them towards a solution. Nagging them to change their behaviour will not work if you fail to find the underlying cause.
10. Be the role model
Kids often learn unconsciously from the world around them and most of their core values are imbibed from their parents’ behaviour. This means that you need to be on your best behaviour when you are around them. When teens become young adults, they start displaying a lot of the behavioural streaks similar to their parents.
So if you want your kid to not scroll though Instagram when they are supposed to be studying, they need to see you put your phone away when you are working. If you want them to be disciplined and punctual, they need to see you display those traits yourself.
Parents are naturally the first role models kids have. Model the role you want your kids to play.
So there you have it. These are few of the common instances of how parents unknowingly demotivate their children. It is critical that you are aware of them because these childhood experiences and behaviours can last a lifetime. You need to be careful now so that they learn only the best from you.
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