“Erm, Pam, how do you motivate your children?” At almost every parent seminar, someone will ask me this question and I am always stuck, because I’ve never had to motivate my children to do anything.

Most recently, a Straits Times journalist asked me that question again but in a different way. She asked me how do I help parents who face unmotivated children.

O… it is a problem, huh?

Then, why do parents and educators choose to demotivate their children and students in the first place.

Don’t believe me? Do this.

Experiment Yourself

Observe the faces of the children starting school on their first day: the primary/grade/year 1 students. Almost always, they will be filled with excitement and wonder, although some will be terrified. But none unmotivated.

Do the same again six months later. You will be lucky to find half of them still as enthusiastic.

How do six-year-old children get unmotivated in six months? The school has a fantastic way of taking away that passion in the kid through the way it is run, the way educators are trained and the way we teach.

Reduce Demotivation

Rather than trying to motivate your kids, I suggest a two-step method: first, you remove things that demotivate, and then, you find ways to inspire!

Motivation requires a push factor, while inspiration is from within. If you can inspire your students, then you will never ever have to motivate them again. This is simply because their motivation then comes from within themselves.

There are many ways to not demotivate your child. I will give an example here (and if you want to know more, please either attend my seminar or PM me). First, do not penalize a child for doing well. Yes, we do that all the time.

Set a firm target and don’t back out! If you tell a child to finish ten questions and they do so in 5 minutes, don’t be tempted to add another five more since he is doing well. To shoot a moving target is extremely difficult and the next time, they will either slow down so that you won’t give them more work, or they won’t even bother to believe you. You have successfully demotivated them.

Increase Inspiration

So, when your child is doing well, do not penalize them, but do not overly reward them either. I have seen so many parents, and I have tried that myself, bribe the kids into doing well. It ALWAYS backfires, because to do well in anything must be their responsibility, and not something they should get extra remuneration for. To provide an incentive to do a duty can lead to a false sense of entitlement, and this kind of bribery can become an ongoing pattern that ultimately teaches your child to wait for an incentive before they do something for themselves.

Requiring incentive to do something is the opposite of inspiration. You want your kid to want to do something for themselves, not to do something for an incentive.

I will cover one more example of how to inspire your child tomorrow, and then all the rest on Saturday’s webinar.

For now, just remember this little formula I have created:

Motivation = Inspiration - Demotivation

Increase inspiration, decrease demotivation. I have used this little formula when working with my students, my own children and my entrepreneurial participants. We have seen tremendous success.

Really. Inspired and motivated people will change the world we live in for us. Try it and see your own miracles!

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