For Educators

Motivation is a Funny Thing.png

I hear from many educators who tell me that their students aren’t motivated to do the things they need to do, especially with regard to completing challenging work. This, of course, is the source of a lot of tension and stress as the teacher grasps for ways to motivate the child. The attempts usually begin with incentives, then progress to consequences, and sometimes even end in nagging and yelling. The results are usually not positive, and typically end up decreasing motivation and damaging the relationship. So why does this happen, and what can you do about it?

 

To Share with Parents

As parents, we all want the best for our children. We want our children to be happy, well-adjusted and successful. However, when these good wishes for our children are broken down into our day-to-day interactions with our children, what we see is a primary focus on that which needs to be improved. If your child struggles in math, then you, as the parent, probably spend extra time practicing math in order to develop that skill. There is nothing wrong with this, but what tends to happen is that we ONLY focus on things that need improvement, and we forget to spend time on their strengths. When we only focus on things that are hard, it can hurt self-esteem, decrease motivation and negatively impact your relationship with your child.

 

Along with societal and social pressures, we hold ourselves to very high standards when it comes to our children. We feel responsible for how they behave…or misbehave. Quite often, we also feel judged and blamed by family, friends and school for our childrens’ challenging behavior. In general, when things feel out of control, we tend to react by clamping down or tightening up. This can be true in any area of life, but especially with regard to our children.

 
Motivation is a Funny Thing (2).png

Our world has changed so much, technologically speaking, over the past 25 years. Advancements are happening rapidly, and new technology is catching on and taking off more and more quickly as the years progress. Technology plays a major role in the lives of most of our kids, and we, as parents, must decide what limits we will place on their use of technology. The technological advancements that we are experiencing have had a tremendously positive impact, including the ability for each of us to carry around a computer, a television, a radio, a camera and the internet in our pockets. However, many of us are noticing changes in our children as a result of technology use, and not always positive changes.

 
Motivation is a Funny Thing (3).png

Children or teens who are “revved up” and prone to rages or—alternatively—who are depressed and apathetic have become disturbingly commonplace. Chronically irritable children are often in a state of abnormally high arousal, and may seem “wired and tired.” That is, they’re agitated but exhausted. Because chronically high arousal levels impact memory and the ability to relate, these kids are also likely to struggle academically and socially.

At some point, a child with these symptoms may be given a mental-health diagnosis such as major depression, bipolar disorder, or ADHD, and offered corresponding treatments, including therapy and medication. But often these treatments don’t work very well, and the downward spiral continues.

 

To Share with Teens

Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 7.32.45 PM.png

The teenage years are a wonderful time in life, but along with the good times often come many pressures and stresses. Let’s just talk about school…most of you probably have to wake up and get to school much earlier than your body prefers; you must sit through classes all day and listen attentively, take good notes and participate in discussions. And the work doesn’t stop when you leave the school building at the end of the day. Each evening there are sports practices and games, music lessons, clubs, volunteer work, homework and studying for tests. I remember these pressures from my own teenage years, but they are fresh in my mind again as I watch my three teenagers navigate their own winding paths.

 
Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 7.35.13 PM.png

The teenage years are a wonderful time in life, but along with the good times often come many pressures and stresses. Let’s just talk about school…most of you probably have to wake up and get to school much earlier than your body prefers; you must sit through classes all day and listen attentively, take good notes and participate in discussions. And the work doesn’t stop when you leave the school building at the end of the day. Each evening there are sports practices and games, music lessons, clubs, volunteer work, homework and studying for tests. I remember these pressures from my own teenage years, but they are fresh in my mind again as I watch my three teenagers navigate their own winding paths.