How to Teach Your Child to Stay Motivated
Posted: May 17, 2019
Have you ever had the experience of listening to a parent talk about their child’s attitude regarding an activity like dance, gymnastics, baseball, theater, karate, etc. and hear them say something like, "Jimmy loves his classes once he's at them. After class he's talking about how great it was and he always leaves with big smile on his face. But sometimes, I have a hard time getting him to his classes. Jimmy's watching TV or a friend asks him to play or he's in the middle of a game and he gives me a hassle about going to the activity. Has this ever happened to you?”
Child psychologists call this being "Present Oriented" and it's typical in young children, but certainly extends to teens. They don't want to break away from what they are doing now, no matter what! They have not learned the concept we like to call "stacking." If this happens to you or to a parent you are in conversation with here is a script that you may find very helpful.
Sit down with your child and ask, "Jimmy, can you build a nice castle or high tower if I give you a bunch of blocks?"
"Yes," he answers.
You say, "That's because they're stackable aren't they? How high a tower could you build if I gave you a bunch of baseballs?"
"I couldn't," he'll answer.
"That's because they are non-stackable. No matter how hard you try they won't stack up," is your answer.
You want to get across to Jimmy this: “If you watch TV today what does it do for you tomorrow? What does it stack up to? Does it get you better grades? Does it earn you some money? Does it get you a better job? What does it do for you the next day, month, year or lifetime? Nothing! It's ‘Non-Stackable.’ It's fun for the moment but doesn't add up to anything. The result happens with excessively playing, on your Ipad, playing Nintendo or Playstation.
“What do you get tomorrow from doing your homework today? What does it stack up to? You learn important things. It gets you good grades. It makes parents, teachers, and you happy. You can get into advanced classes. Choose the schools you want to go to. It stacks up!” Ask Jimmy the same thing about chores, music lessons, and activities like training in martial arts classes. They all stack up.
Then say, “It's easy to tell ‘Stackable’ things from ‘Non-Stackable’ things. Stackable things need to be done at or by a particular time. Homework is due on a certain day. Chores need to be done on Saturday morning after breakfast. Non-Stackable items can be done anytime. There's not a time you have to watch TV or play.”
Tell Jimmy, “Never replace Stackable items with Non-Stackable items. No watching TV during homework time and no playing with friends during time allocated for activities that improve you. No more arguing about going to activities, going to bed or eating dinner.”
You can say, "Now, Jimmy, here's the agreement we're going to make. From now on, you are not allowed to argue me about Stackable activities. Unless WE have decided that being the best you can be is not important anymore your objections are off limits. You should know that I don't accept, ‘I wanted to watch TV, I don’t feel like going, I wanted to play’ because those things are not Stackable. We will allocate plenty of down time for you to play and just hangout, but do not confuse Stackable and Non Stackable times.”
Finish with, “Do we all agree? Great! Let's do it. I know you can Jimmy, and I'm looking forward to helping you be the best JIMMY you can be.”
I hope this helps you in your quest to help your child understand the importance of following through and talking responsibility.
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