Are You Unknowingly Sabotaging Your Child’s Self-Motivation Skills From Developing?

Self-motivation is the ability to start and complete a task or goal without depending on outside pressure or intervention to get the job done. Kids who are self-motivated not only start and complete tasks on their own, but they also have the ability to stick to a task even when it becomes difficult or boring.

This is an important life skill that most kids are not born with, and the consequences are huge if they do not develop this skill during childhood. Psychological studies have shown that kids who do not learn self-motivation skills during childhood or adolescence grow into adults that:

  • Have a higher chance of dropping out of high school and college because they lack the skills to persevere when the work gets hard
  • Have difficulty maintaining steady employment and usually end up going from one dead-end job to another
  • Enjoy less satisfaction in romantic relationships and marriages because they tend to leave their relationships rather than stay and attempt to work out their problems.
Self-motivation Skills Can Be Taught

The good news is that even if kids are not born with the inherent ability to be self-motivated, they can be taught these important life skills when they are young. This means that parents are the key in teaching, modeling, and reinforcing self-motivating behavior in their kids.

The problem is that many well-meaning parents are unknowingly sabotaging the development of this life skill from developing in their young child, tween, or teen and this can have terrible consequences. This may even be happening in your household and you don’t even know it.

In order to determine if you are sabotaging your child’s development of self-motivation skills, ask yourself the following 7 questions. If you answer yes to any of the following questions then changing your behavior now can have a dramatic impact on your child’s future.

1. Do I nonverbally communicate my lack of confidence in my child’s ability to complete their homework, projects or chores? Observe whether or not you roll your eyes, sigh, or frown the next time your child attempts to do their homework or start a project on their own.

2. Do I expect my child to do their work perfectly after explaining it only once? Expecting perfection from a child is the fastest way to sabotage not only their self-motivation ability but also their self-esteem. Especially if your child is very young, allow time and space for more questions, messing up, and work that is “good enough.”

3. Do I give in too easily & finish chores or work when I see my child not doing things “right”? This communicates to your child that you don’t believe that they can handle the work. If you don’t believe in them, then why should they believe in themselves?

4. Do I do everything for my child? Doing everything for your child from cleaning their room to doing their homework for them might make you feel like a good parent, but you are doing a huge disservice for your child.

It may be difficult to watch, but let your child become uncomfortable or angry while they spend the afternoon cleaning their room. Allow them to struggle while they figure out how to complete a homework project on their own.

5. Do I expect that my child knows all the little steps involved in everyday tasks? I see many good parents make this mistake all the time. As adults, we take for granted that we understand all the little steps involved in doing things like cleaning bathroom, organizing our work area, or finishing an assignment.

We often forget that this is a learned skill and that kids learn this through instruction from parents; therefore, review all the little steps involved in a task with your child before they begin.

6. Are my standards & expectations so high that there is little chance my child will actually complete tasks according to my standards? Without even realizing it, you may be setting your child up for failure even before they begin a task. Make sure that your expectations match your child’s ability based on age, maturity, and skill.

7. Do I model an attitude that communicates that good work is unimportant? Finally, take a look at what your own behavior is communicating to your child. Do you complain about working on household chores or work projects? Do you only put minimal effort into family tasks? Remember that you set the example for your child, so if you are modeling a good work ethic in front of your child, then your child is more likely to adopt this attitude as well.

Take Home Message

Give your child the gift of self-motivation by first taking a good long look at how you might be sabotaging this important life skill from developing in your child. It’s never too late to help your child to develop these skills.

Once you have identified how you might be unconsciously undermining their self-motivation abilities to develop, then make an intentional effort to change your behavior today. I’ll bet once you change your behavior, you’ll see positive changes in your child’s behavior almost immediately.

Question: Do you think you might be unconsciously sabotaging your child’s self-motivation? Make a commitment to change by stating in the comment section below how you intend on changing your behavior in order to encourage your child’s self-motivation skills to develop.

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