I recently came across this article about motivating children who lack motivation. One of the points the author describes made me pause. She asks the parent what motivates their child? What does he really want? What questions can I ask that will help him discover and explore his interests? What are his goals and ambitions?
Encouraging children requires you as a parent to step far enough away to see your child as a separate person. With all our good intentions, it is easy to become wrapped up in the stress of every day life and forget our children are not mini-me's, but are separate people with different preferences, different ways of thinking, feeling, and doing things.
For a child to feel motivated they must first feel seen. They must feel that their voice matters. That their parent takes the time to really listen-- not to what you want the answers to be, but to what your child is really saying. And if the answers happen to not line up with who you are, respect them, even if you disagree.
I read this "66 Positive Things To Say To Your Child" post today, and wrote down the ones I regularly say to my children, and the things I'm going to try. to say more often. It was a good reminder to see my children as their own separate selves that I must continue to learn and understand as they grow.
Encouraging things I say often:
#2: You make me proud.
#6: You don't have to be perfect to be great.
#17: You were right. (Especially if I had previously told them they were not!)
#37: I trust you.
#38: That was a really good choice.
#63: I love you.
Here's what I'm going to try to say more of:
#19: We can try it your way.
#34: I admire you.
#44: Thank you for being you.
#60: I'm listening.
#65: You are enough.
What are some things you say now vs. what you'd like to say more of to encourage your child and help them be the beautiful little people that they are?
Chantal D. Hayes, MA, LCMHC
Banyan Tree Counseling & Wellness
We are a team of licensed clinicians with a holistic, strengths-based, and evidence-based approach. We offer counseling for people of all ages, life coaching, group therapy, and dietary nutrition services.