How To Motivate a Child: Effective Parenting Tips

Motivation is a key that opens the door to a successful life. Success is what all parents want for their kids.

How To Motivate Your Child

In order to help children see the “right” path, you should guide them a little. It means – to motivate them in the right way.

Is there such thing as a “right motivation”? Well, of course! Depending on the way we choose to encourage a child, we can either teach them to work for the sake of result and personal satisfaction or the sake of praise from you.

How To Motivate a Child: Effective Parenting Tips

Here we get familiar with concepts of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The first one (intrinsic motivation) is about an individual’s inner satisfaction from doing what one likes or wants. This way, a person is driven by personal desires, creativity, and ambitions.

As for extrinsic motivation, a person is motivated by external factors, such as your praise, other peoples’ opinion, etc. Basically, an individual does something for the sake of praise and other peoples’ approval.

How To Motivate a Child:

What is better for my child?

The answer is obviously intrinsic motivation.

What is my next step?

The following thing to do would be to go through our seven ways to motivate a little one! Let us not waste precious time and move on to the methods themselves.

In this article, you will find:

  1. Help a Little One Discover What They are Passionate About
  2. Let Them Think Independently
  3. Withhold from Controlling the Situation
  4. Help Children Set Goals
  5. Are Rewards Helpful?
  6. Importance of Collaboration
  7. By Teaching, We Learn

Now, let us take a closer look and find out what these ways have to offer!

Help a Little One Discover What They are Passionate About

Passion and dreams are what drive us forward and make us generate motivation and inspiration. However simple it may sound, a process is tricky. Tricky but not impossible, right?

One of the best ways to help kids make their dreams come true is to create a dream board. It will help children visualize their goals, think of the methods and tools they will need in the process. Besides, it will help them stay on track and provide a clear plan rather than a blury picture in their minds.

What can enhance motivation?

Many ways can work better for various personalities, but one of them is ultimate – visualization. Kids (and people generally) are more likely to achieve their dreams if they visualize their goals.

How To Motivate Your Child

This way, an individual comes up with an idea, imagines the process (which boosts confidence and heats the interest), and imagines the successful outcome. It all activates motivation, and a person becomes their inspiration and draws motivation from the inside.

Let Them Think Independently

Making choices is one of the hardest things a person encounters in life. Fear of making the wrong choice stays with us for life, but it does not mean that we should give in to it. For this and other reasons, kids find it challenging to maintain their intrinsic motivation.

What you can do in this case is to let little ones make decisions regarding their dreams. Prompt kids to make decisions according to their vision and ideas.

This feeling of holding the power to make choices and be the boss are motivating. It powers up intrinsic motivation and helps a little one get familiar with the sense of responsibility.

Withhold from Controlling the Situation

Parents are such parents. Sometimes their protection gets to the extent that they control a child’s every move and choice just to ensure their security. However, it is not a way to go.

In their “Undermining Children’s Intrinsic Interest with Extrinsic Reward,” Lepper and Greene from Stanford University wrote about the research they conducted over forty years ago. They claim that children constantly supervised by their parents were much more reluctant to participate in activities. On the other hand, children whose parents were not there to watch them were much more creative and productive.

How To Motivate Your Child

Therefore, let children do what they need to do in order to achieve their goals. Let them be creative on their own.

Help Children Set Goals

How excited are you when you come up with the idea? Now, are you as exciting when you start off thinking about a number of things you should do to make the vision come true?

Yeah, things get tricky at this moment. Therefore, you should help children to formulate their steps towards making their idea come true.

It is a moment when you should consider using a technique called “goal ladder.” It will help a child organize thoughts and break them down into steps towards the goal. A goal ladder will be of great help to kids, helping them with the plans and goals.

Are Rewards Helpful?

How badly did you want to get a medal for first place? In most cases, your answer might have been “Badly!” However, wouldn’t it be more logical first to ask, “Prize for what?” The thing is that we are so fixed on getting a reward that we don’t particularly care about the contest itself.

The study conducted by Manoogian, Anderson, and Reznik from Wake Forest University has shown that even the smallest reward has the power to decrease the kid’s intrinsic motivation. It is incredibly destructive if a child knows that he or she is 100% getting it.

Parents should show kids that the process matters the most. Kids should learn to reflect on personal growth through the competition.

Teach them to value this experience more than the piece of “golden” metal they can get. This way, children will learn to value their accomplishments and experience.

Importance of Collaboration

Dreams are far too personal to share them with anyone else, let alone work together on their achievement. However, two heads are better than one, right?

Children find it easier to overcome difficulties if they have someone to work with and share their tasks with. Hence, whenever a little one needs help with figuring out the way to achieve their goal – assist them.

How To Motivate Your Child

Whenever you are thinking about doing something together (like a trip, camping, etc.), work all together to create a great holiday. This collaboration will be even more inspiring for a little one.

By Teaching, We Learn

What is more important: to learn or to understand the material? At school, teachers would emphasize learning the material by heart, arguing that it is the best way to make the knowledge stay in a child’s head.

The reality begs to differ. The brain gets rid of the information it cannot fathom.

However, once it understands the principle of the knowledge it gets, the brain can never forget it. Therefore, you should emphasize the second.

To help a child understand the material, let them take on the role of a teacher. Let them share the knowledge they have obtained regardless of whether you know what they are talking about or not.

Show a genuine interest and ask kids questions afterward. They will make them think and dig deeper into the subject.

Also, to make the process more fun, you can ask a child to share with siblings some exciting information. This way, kids can understand the information better and get a clearer picture of their goals.


We tend to think that motivation is right in all its manifestations. However, the truth is that to motivate a child, you need to know how to do it properly so that it could have a positive impact. Therefore, go through the list above and help a little one develop its intrinsic motivation to become their inspiration and motivation source.

How To Motivate a Child: Effective Parenting Tips

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