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How to Motivate Children to Perform Well in School

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How well does your child perform at school? Do they flunk each kid’s math test? Most importantly, do you have trouble motivating them to study? If your answer was affirmative, it’s important to know you aren’t alone.

Many parents struggle to motivate their kids to study, and this has nothing to do with their parenting skills at all. The main cause? They’re probably approaching it the wrong way. As such, in this article, we’ll explore how to motivate children and the best ways to help them overcome academic apathy.

Let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?

What not to Do

Before we go into further details, it’s important to address the faux pas you may have already committed. These actions may have worked in the past but in the long run, may damage your child’s relationship with academic work. Here are some of them:

Don’t control them

As parents, we may think we know it all when it comes to doing what’s right for our kids. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, especially when it comes to their academic life. If you’re looking to motivate them to perform better, you’d need to take your hands off the steering wheel completely. 

Motivation tends to come from knowing that you’re in control of your life and that any action or inaction would shape your future. If children feel that someone else is in control, they tend to be lazier about their education. Consequently, they’d never feel responsible for their education or future.

So, take a deep breath and let them take charge. This doesn’t mean that you’re absconding from your parental duties. It simply means that you’re offering them a slice of responsibility.

Don’t obsess over their results

Everyone wants good grades, no doubt. But then good grades are like diamonds: it’s amazing to have them, but they don’t determine how hardworking you are. Thus, when motivating your child to perform well in school, your focus should be on the process, not their grades. Emphasize the importance of having a consistent study time.

You’re probably thinking: “But the results are important too!” Well, they are to a large extent. However, if your child is highly focused on good grades, there’s a huge chance they’d lose their motivation to study if they don’t get the results they want. In the same vein, they’d always see learning as a necessary evil they must go through to learn.

By focusing on the process rather than the end, you’d encourage them to love learning and embrace the process.

Don’t use punishments or threats

Threats, punishments, and rewards are often touted as practical parenting tools. However, they tend to do more harm than good. By utilizing these harmful tools, you’re teaching your child that they’re loved only when they “do things right” (e.g., get good grades). 

In the same vein, these tools only focus on the surface issues and ignore the fact that there may be an underlying reason why your child isn’t feeling motivated to study. Thus, the earlier you get rid of this system, the better.

What to do

With the don’ts out of the way, let’s explore some of the best practices for motivating your kid to perform well at school:

Use routines and structures

Routines and structures are a crucial part of any student’s academic life. Not only do they eliminate conflict, but routines help them keep their studies in order. Picture this scenario: you have a routine that at 6 pm every night, your kids have to go over math worksheets for kids or do their homework. Over time, as this routine becomes established, there would be no grumbling about doing homework.

Instead, they’d simply see it as a regular part of their daily routine. On the other hand, with no routines set in place, you’d probably argue with your child when it’s time to do your homework.

But this isn’t to say that routines are all roses and sunshine. There are stormy days when you’d need to reinforce routines and put your foot down.

Teach them to embrace mistakes

We all know that everyone makes mistakes. But does your kid know that? Many kids are obsessed with instant success, and in cases where this isn’t attainable, they become discouraged and deflated.

Mistakes are a huge part of learning; when we make mistakes, we’re one step closer to success. Teach your child to embrace mistakes as part of the learning process. To help them do this, you could share some mistakes you’ve made and tell them how you bounced back from them.

Teach them organisational skills

Many teens and pre-teens tend to feel overwhelmed and burned out when it comes to schoolwork. To help them get over this feeling and navigate their academic life, it’s advisable to teach them organisational skills.

Show them how to break down huge tasks into smaller chunks. This way, they’d be able to navigate academic tasks more seamlessly. They’d undoubtedly feel less overwhelmed and more eager to work at the end of the day.

Final thoughts

Motivating your child to perform well at school can be daunting for any parent. However, these core practices outlined above will help you build your child’s motivation. Consistently show interest in other areas of your child’s life (not just their academics), and you’d see results in no time at all.

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.


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