With more and more children and teens showing signs of low motivation, teachers and parents are struggling to find tools that will inspire a sense of drive. In reality, these children are not unmotivated. They simply are only motivated to do what comes easy or what is entertaining. They are not motivated for tasks that they don’t like or for work they find challenging.

Thus, many are motivated to play video games, sports, or watch YouTube videos, but unmotivated to do their schoolwork or help out around the house. Tension and conflict arise when you try to get them ‘going’ on their schoolwork or perhaps just clean their room.

The External: Setting up the parenting system to build motivation

Put the reality formula in place first: Effort is required before you get the goodies.

In last week’s article, we covered the first essential step to motivate children to get moving. In essence, it means that you must get some leverage in play. To do this, get control of the goodies, and require real effort before you open the door to those goodies. Please review Part I here.

Don’t empower the resistance, the laziness, or the talking back.

We have a power that we often (unknowingly) abuse. The power comes from what we engage with our children. If we regularly engage our children when they are talking back, putting us off, resisting the task at hand…we GIVE POWER to their resistance.

This is critical to understand. If we give power to that resistance (regardless of what form it comes in), it will simply gain more and more power over time. We must stop this, or all of your other hard work will be for naught.

The bottom line here is this: Put the reality formula in place. Explain how it works, but only ONE time. Then, when your kids resist and say, “You’re crazy mom” or simply sit on the sofa, just walk away, lovingly, and with a big smile on your face. Go on about your day, and be patient. Remember, you control the goodies and they will ALWAYS return to wanting the goodies. Eventually, as long as you do not empower the resistance, they will come around. Might it take a few days? Yes, for some it will. Just be patient.

Behavior changes first; then attitude changes much later.

Once you are patiently walking away from the resistance, you will eventually get compliance. They will do what you want. However, it will come with grumpiness, poor effort, and an attitude. Ignore all the attitude components; just don’t engage.

Do hold them to a standard of good effort. For example, when they clean their room, they will learn to pull everything out from under the bed once you simply say, “Not yet,” after glancing under the bed a few times. They will get it.

But, it is to be expected that they will still complain, perhaps be a bit disrespectful and continue to talk about the stupidity of the system. So you must focus on the behavior change you see and don’t be tempted to comment on their attitude or their comments.

Please trust this: The attitude will come around if you rigidly stick to points one and two above.

Abandon lectures, being right, and reminding them that you are right.

As the system begins to work, it will be tempting to remind your child or teen that you are right. It sounds like this; “Now, that wasn’t so hard…was it?” Or, “See, it only took you twenty minutes, but you wasted an hour complaining. Why don’t you just do it?”

These are futile and worthless comments. Let them go. You don’t have to be right or have the last word.

Words will not motivate here, at least…not yet. In next week’s article, we will discuss the role of coaching for your child. Not just what to do or say, but when to say it. For now, be patient. Stick with this system and you will see movement very soon!