Tired of nagging? Here's how to motivate your child


The struggle for academic excellence is as much (if not more so) of a concern for parents as it is for their children. Getting the best out of them can be rewarding and frustrating. 

No matter how brilliant or naturally gifted, nothing can replace the right kind of motivation.  

In 1998, psychologists Carol Dweck and Claudia Mueller conducted a study on 128 children. Each child was asked to solve a set of mathematical tasks. Divided into two groups, the children in the first group were praised for their intelligence, the second, for their effort.

Their study revealed that attitude —and not aptitude — determines success, and praising talent, however positive, can do as much harm as it does good. 

In her article, The Perils and Promises of Praise, Dweck correlates decades of research, and provides much insight into what she calls the “growth mind-set,” and by understanding how to properly motivate their children, parents can enable greater academic success.  

Watch Carol Dweck explain her theory on the growth mind-set: 

Deciphering intelligence 

Following on from Dweck’s research, a good place for parents to start fostering the growth mind set is by helping their children realise that intelligence is only partly good genes, and mostly application.  

For the children in the effort-praised group, a basic understanding of the brain as a muscle in need of constant exercise prompted a sense of self-empowerment. 

Educational videos about how the brain works may prove useful in helping your child to take ownership of their intelligence rather than viewing it as something beyond their control. 

Videos like these make understanding the brain's mechanics simpler for kids: 

Emphasizing perseverance rather than success 

Dweck’s study revealed an alarming belief held by the intelligence-praised group, that effort implied incompetence, and for the clever student, success is a given.

And even more troublesome, these students refused to make any attempt at taking on challenging assignments. 

For the effort-praised group, perseverance rather than success was viewed as the key to achievement.  

The process is the objective 

Improved grades then, according to Dweck’s extensive research, lies in redirection. By placing greater value on the steps taken by the child to learn — rather than just the end result — parents instill a kind of self-determined motivation, the kind of motivation that is irrepressible, gearing them up for success in academia and far beyond. 

Read More: 

What's your experience been with motivating your child? Send your stories of success or failure to chatback@parent24.com and we might publish them.

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