Some kids are self-motivators. If you have one or more, consider yourself blessed.
If you don’t, you’ve probably tried just about every trick in the book to push them to perform. Did any of the following “strategies” work for you?
- Yelling – It scares your child and may get an initial reaction, but in the long run, it can hurt your relationship with your child.
- Bribery – It may work for the moment, but it rarely has life-shaping success.
- Comparison – Bringing up other athletes as examples will probably anger your athlete.
- Reverse psychology – Most kids see right through it.
- Threats – If your child doesn’t care enough to really try on his own, he probably doesn’t care a whole bunch about your threats. He knows you most likely won’t follow through.
- Preaching – “Here we go again” is what your kids are probably thinking.
If our goal as parents and sports parents is to get our kids to always give their best effort, these solutions are like Band-Aids on a broken arm. They just don’t get to the heart of the matter. And the heart of the matter is that your children have to feel confident that they can succeed and know that hard work will result in that success. If they know that, if they’ve felt that, then chances are, they will push themselves when they need to.
How do we infuse our kids with confidence? What’s the secret to motivating them to always do their best? After 28 years watching my husband coach and work to motivate kids – and after 21 years trying to motivate my own 3 athletes to give their all – I’ve concluded that there really is no secret cure. But there is treatment. And that treatment is to encourage them, support them, listen to them, look for those teachable moments when they really are listening to you – and love, love, love them.
Let’s put away the parenting Band-Aids and give them the love treatment that hopefully will help them stay motivated for life.
Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. She authored the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series and has recently launched a podcasting series for sports parents. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.