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What to do if your child lacks motivation

My child doesn't listen to me. My child does not study. My child does not do what he is told to do. My child is always busy chatting with friends. Does all of this sound familiar? Well, a lot of parents go through this and the way to resolve this is really quite simple. Read on to know more.

Weekday mornings can be chaotic for parents. The morning-hour rush is chaotic enough to drive you mad; and if you routinely have to deal with a child who needs to be coaxed out of bed, while you juggle a dozen other balls, the start of your day is clearly unpleasant. Nobody wants to begin their mornings, shouting their lungs out, asking the kid to hurry up.

Evenings or study time are no better. Getting the child to sit down with his books throws different challenges. The child either ignores your pleas and commands or furnishes excuses, in an almost cyclic pattern. Your child is clearly disinterested in things that you deem important.

How to motivate your child?

Your child doesn't lack motivation. In fact, he has oodles of it; it's just that his motivation is channelized towards different things. It could be video games, social network sites or television or maybe ignoring your commands. He manipulates things in a way that his personal preferences become a priority.

How do you redirect this unproductive motivation, which is a negative trait, into something more positive? Let's study different situations that you can face with your child and learn how to tackle them. I have explained subtle and stringent measures that you can take to get your child on the right track.

The most common problem

Children are manipulative and parents either turn a blind eye to their behaviour or don't really see it as manipulation. Most parents do not know how to deal with their kids' inert behaviour. They resort to sweet-talking their child into doing what they want or threaten, shout and argue with them. Some parents take it upon themselves to complete what the child is supposed to do. Example, clean the room, put things back in place, pack the schoolbag etc.

Child psychology identifies the manipulative behaviour as a power struggle. The child pitches himself against the parents, and each time you give in, it spells a victory for the child. You have to identify ways to set rules to get out of this game of power struggle that your child plays with you.

You won't find a solution to the problem, if you continue to have the same battles, with your child, day in and day out. The child will get better at his game, and you will gradually lose your power over him. A child who constantly resists your authority can be difficult to handle. You'll always find resistance with your attempts to instil positive attributes in them.

Kids are not manipulative in a wicked way. It is their way of problem-solving. And they succeed at it, every time you allow them to have their way. You need to tackle their distorted view of accomplishment, in a systematic manner. Curtailing video games and banning television might seem like a plausible solution, but it won't work unless you develop a definite strategy.

Arresting manipulative behaviour

So, what can you do to check this kind of behaviour in your child? You need effective solutions that do not have you in conflict with your child, all the time. The first step is to stop stepping in to do what the child is supposed to do. Let the child learn to be responsible. As long as you are there to pick up after him, he is not going to learn to do things.

The next step is to avoid giving the child the power to manipulate you. How do you do that? Stop yelling and showing your displeasure. The more frustrated you get the more vulnerable you become to the manipulation. The child will use it to resist you – it's the power struggle.

Instead of losing your cool, give your child clear instructions. Play the power game to your advantage. Be in control, rather than letting situations control you. Show your authority, and start your communication with 'I'.

"I want you to clean your room now." "I want you to go to bed now." "I want you to finish your homework now." Give the instruction and move away. Don't hang around for a discussion – it will lead to the power struggle.

If the child does not do as you say, then impose consequences. Your child has to learn accountability, only then will he grow up to be responsible. Ignore, if the child tells you that he doesn't care about the consequences. It is again him being manipulative – it's his way of showing you his power.

Stick to your word and go ahead with the consequences. If the child doesn't clean his room he doesn't get to do anything else. Confiscate the video games. If the child doesn't go to bed, he shouldn't be allowed to watch his favourite television show. If he doesn't do his homework, he doesn't get to go out and play.

Notice how you aren't just taking away privileges, you are showing your child that it is happening as a result of him not doing what he is supposed to do. You have to be firm and let your child experience the consequences you threatened him with. Don't give in to emotions and relent, if you want your child to succeed. You will need to show him that there are consequences for bad behaviour and resistance.

Understand the child's psychology

A child who doesn't listen to you is sending out a loud message. Decode his behaviour, so you can handle him better. So, what is the child saying?

So, you have a kid who doesn't do what he is told. He continues doing his own thing, be it sleeping in late, not studying, chatting with friends, going to bed late – you can add to the list. It is important to realise that the child does not lack motivation, it's just that the child's interests are somewhere else. He is not motivated to do what you think is a priority. In this case, the child is basically motivated to resist. He develops a motivation to do what he likes – in short, he begins to exude power over you.

Now, why would your sweet little angel do that?

The answer to that is simple, he finds himself powerless in front of you and resists, in order to feel powerful. You see it as misbehaviour, but the child sees it as being in control of his own life.


Sometimes kids don't do as they are told because they are just lazy. But, there is cause to worry if it becomes a habit, for then it's more a power struggle. For instance, you ask your child to do something, but he doesn't respond, even though you are sure he has heard you. Subconsciously, your child's behaviour is making him feel more powerful.

Remember, everyone is motivated, but the motivations are not properly channelized. When your child doesn't seem motivated to do his homework, you need to check what he is engaged in – that is the thing he is motivated to do.

So, the challenge you face is to get him motivated into doing something positive and intrinsically productive. Introduce discipline that involves both consequences and rewards. The child needs to experience the real results of his power game. He cannot have it his way, and this lesson is important. You need to ensure it, for it's your job to help shape his life.

The bottom line is that losing your cool will not work with kids fiercely motivated to do their own thing. Use your power not through yelling and arguing, but by making them accountable.

Remove privileges and special treats, if that is what it takes to get them motivated. Encourage responsible behaviour with praise and special privileges. Yes, you too become manipulative, but there is always a little give and take involved in raising kids the right way.

How do you tackle such behaviour? How do you keep your child motivated to do things? Do share your experiences and like and share the article.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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Author: Sheo Shankar Jha19 Sep 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 4

The author has raised a very sensible point and if we look around, we would witness such lazy behavior of children which would be difficult for them to give up.

First of all, we need to go through the mental make up of such children prompting them to behave in such irrational ways. Cajoling or scolding would not serve the purpose, rather we should create a favorable situation helping the children to realize their irresponsible behavior.

The patience of the parents in their approach, to make them understand the long-term impact of demotivation and a helpful response of the parents would do wonders in creating motivation. A conducive environment in the family may also help the children to be charged with the appropriate motivation.

A good write up by the author detailing every relevant point to arouse motivation among the children.

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