All kids are motivated, they are just not motivated to do what we want them to do. We, as parents, have to figure out the payoff. Children may have self-esteem issues such that they would rather not try, than to try and not measure up to someone’s expectations.
There may be a peer issue, which usually consists of fitting in and being one of the group. For example, a gifted kid may “dumb down” so the others don’t think he is a showoff or smarty pants.
A child may find a curriculum is too easy, and there doesn’t seem to be any point in doing the work. On the other hand, if it is too hard, the child may just give up. So, we have to figure out what is motivating the child.
We should also take a look at homework, which can be an explosive issue with parents. The teacher who assigns the homework is responsible to check it and require it to be turned in. If homework is done incorrectly or not turned in, it is the teacher's job to impose a consequence.
Our job as parents is to provide a suitable area and quiet time to do the homework.
Nothing good ever comes from being the homework police. Nagging breeds resentment, which ruins our relationship with our children. Just tell your kids that you wouldn’t want to go to school without your homework. If they want to tell their teachers they didn’t feel like doing it, they can go right ahead. Tell the kids to let you know how that works out for them.
A parent can encourage with extrinsic motivation and hopefully, being successful will turn in to intrinsic motivation. Kids feel good when they are successful and will want that to continue.
Nancy Serlin designed and had been teaching a science program for pre-schoolers for the past 28 years. She received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Michigan and is a parenting specialist who does private consulting work. She has facilitated parenting classes in the Farmington Public Schools and other local districts. She has been a featured speaker at conferences, on television and radio.