Ways to Motivate Your Child to Learn And Grow Positively

It was August 2007, and I was tutoring my 8-year-old son in a corner. We were in Karlsruhe, Germany’s Modern Sports Arena. Sam was fighting for his first “World Kickboxing Title” in the under 25KG weight class in front of hundreds of spectators

For me and my kid, Sam, getting to this point was a winding road of disputes, tantrums, and progress. On reflection, there were certain encouraging tidbits that, thankfully, I was able to put into practice in time to assist our relationship progress in a healthy direction.

I’m going to share three essential points from our experience with encouraging your youngster.

I aim to assist my pupils to improve their abilities, techniques, and mindset as a martial arts teacher. There is a well-known method for accomplishing this.

When you notice a pupil making a mistake, correct it and assist the kid in developing healthy habits via repetition.

This appears to be reasonable and straightforward—much like effective parenting—but the strategy is severely wrong.

Correcting someone in front of others is the lowest level of human emotion—shame. We are publicly condemning the student and instilling a negative mindset in them.

We are privately humiliating and putting our children on the defensive at home. Our initial plan must be diametrically opposed.

Related: Self-Care Tips for a Healthier, Happier You

How NOT to motivate your teenager to do better in school

The first five items on the list below might be things you’ve done in the past, but there’s no reason to get down on yourself about them.

They’re simply common parenting habits that are born from good intentions but, ultimately, are not effective motivational tools.

As children get older, more responsibility is placed on them to complete their homework and stay on top of their assignments. While some students have the motivation to complete their work on time, other students struggle to get started.

Although it’s important for parents to take an active role in ensuring their child completes homework, it’s also important to not force your child to do it—there’s a big difference between forcing and motivating.

Encouraging your child to find motivation in a positive way is important for building habits that last. Forcing your child to do work can make him or she resent study time, making self-motivation much more difficult to achieve.

So what can you do when your child has no motivation to study? Check out these tips to help your child find the drive to get homework done.

You can start today to become a better listener, less controlling, and more accepting. Let’s take a look at what to avoid going forward.

1. Constantly Catch Your Child Doing Something Right

This reinforces the desired beneficial behavior. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t correct your child because there will always be a need for it.

Consider your child to be a financial account. You make a deposit if you find them accomplishing excellent things on a regular basis.

You make a withdrawal every time you correct them. If your child’s emotional account already has a good balance, it will be simpler to swallow the withdrawals.

If this was an important coaching topic, Sam was considerably happy hearing “keep your hand up when punching” if he had already heard “excellent effort on the pads” or “that kick was 100 percent accurate.”

Tony Robbins has a great quote for this:

Energy flows where attention goes.

When you start looking for the good things your kids are doing, you’ll notice more good things, which will help you engage with them in a more positive way.

Being a parent is difficult enough, but being their coach adds another layer of complexity to the relationship. You’ll be wearing two hats. So, on days when they don’t feel like practicing, it might smack them in the face twice.

The key is to give your youngster options rather than ultimatums.

2. Choices, Not Ultimatums

When we’re fatigued, ultimatums come naturally to us. When kids don’t want to practice, it’s easy to say, “Sam, take your kit bag and get in the car or you’ll be banned from Nintendo for a week.”

We’re both parents. We know what’s best for them, so we employ ultimatums to maintain our power. When we give these ultimatums, though, it’s generally our inner monkey voice that talks, so we’re never truly in charge.

Instead, I’ll take a big breath, clear my mind, and say to Sam, “Sam, we’ll be leaving for training in 15 minutes.” “Would you like to get your gear into the car right now or finish your game first?”

It’s a minor distinction, but by giving your child this option, you’re removing the word “no” from the equation and giving them the power to make an informed decision.

You may believe that asserting your authority puts you in control, but this is a delusion. Nobody enjoys being instructed to put down their work and do something else. It dismisses their viewpoints as unimportant, and they will hate your directive.

Related: How Can You Assist Your Child in Developing Self-Control?

The activity may be completed, but you can sense the bad energy, and the task is never completed in a way that makes you happy.

This strategy can be used at any moment, and it helps to maintain a good connection.

“Would you prefer broccoli or cauliflower?” says the waiter. “Would you rather do your schoolwork on a Saturday or on a Sunday?”

When I was coaching my son Sam, I found that using this method yielded considerably greater outcomes. “Do you want to work on your punching or kicking today?” may be as simple as that. or “Would you like to exercise this week on Saturday or Sunday?”

This might make a big difference in how the session begins, with a lot of positive energy straight away.

As a parent, the last point is the most difficult to accept. Everything revolves around us.

3. Monkey See, Monkey Do!

From the way they speak to the way they behave and act, children imitate their parents. What we tell our children has a much greater influence on them. [1] They’ll imitate our demeanor, mannerisms, and much more. This suggests that what we do as parents has an impact on our children’s motivation.

We could think this is fantastic at first. One, and this is huge but, they don’t copy the traits we want them to. They appear to concentrate on our flaws and exaggerate them by a factor of ten.

I’m always trying to improve as a parent and coach. I’ve been driving for almost 25 years, but that doesn’t mean I’m a competent driver.

Many drivers spend a few months learning to drive, then continue to make the same mistakes year after year.

If you’ve ever tried to teach your child to drive, you’ll understand how much has changed since you first learned to drive, as well as how many mistakes you make that your children are eager to point out.

Telling them to “do what I say, not what I do” isn’t going to help you win the debate. If you want your youngster to have more self-assurance, What have you done recently to display your self-assurance?

If you want your child’s self-esteem to improve, do you whine about wrinkles, your waistline, or something else consistently within earshot?

Related: Ways to Motivate Your Child to Learn And Grow Positively

What are you doing to demonstrate excellence to your child if you want him or her to be a world champion in kickboxing?

The point is that there is always space for improvement. You’re reading this post because you’re interested in growing as a parent.

Children “may not always do what we say, but they will always, eventually do what we do,” says Laura Markham, Ph.D., author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids.

As a result, we model the majority of what youngsters learn about how to act. That is why, regardless of what you consciously teach your child, what they live with will teach them more.

My task to you is to make a list of three different types of water.

4. Bonus Tip: How to Supercharge These 3 Tips

Extrinsic motivation, or incentives, is an old-school approach to positive motivation that is hotly contested by scientists and parents.

Every parent has an opinion on the subject. Do any of these words ring a bell?

  • “When you sit still and complete your supper, you can have your dessert.” Is the youngster still sitting?
  • “After we go to the doctor for your booster, you can enjoy a happy meal.”
  • “If you finish your schoolwork, you can play on your console.”

The concept is sound: reward less enjoyable work with a more enjoyable experience. Extrinsic motivation is the term for this type of motivation.

The difficulty with this method is that we’ll instill in our children the “what will you give me for it” or “what’s in it for me?” attitude, as Vanessa LoBue Ph.D. puts it.

However, the study by Lepper, R. M., Greene, D., and Nisbett, E. R. discovered a minor variation that makes all the difference.

This was a pleasant drawing activity that was used in a study on preschool-aged children. This is an activity that kids would like doing even if they weren’t told to.

Related: Bedtime Routines for Children of Various Ages (Your Go-To Guide)

The use of markers was encouraged among the children. One group was told that if they used the markers, they would be rewarded with gold certificates.

Although the other group was not informed of any incentives, several of the children were surprised to get them as a result of their efforts.

The children who were told about the rewards or who received one as a surprise were significantly less motivated to complete the task than the children who were not told about the rewards or who received one as a surprise.

This study has the key to motivating our children to learn and grow in a positive way. Promised rewards can actually detract from the pleasure of completing a task or from intrinsic motivation. [2]

Receiving an unexpected reward, like the youngsters in the study, might positively reinforce the behaviors we want to see.

When you combine this with the tactics listed above, you’ll have a winning combination. You’ll amplify the findings.

When I was coaching my son. After training, he was always going to eat a happy lunch. I’m a cool parent who enjoys spoiling my kids, but the timing of the treatment is crucial.

When I stopped him just after he demonstrated a skill that we’d been working on and told him:

“That punch, Sam, was world-class.” It reminded me of Bruce Lee’s Back Fist from ‘Enter the Dragon,’ and it helped me rediscover my enthusiasm for martial arts.” “After class, it’s your choice—happy lunch or subway.” You’ve worked hard for it.”

I noticed a lovely smile on my child’s face.

I’m starting with advice number one: always catch your youngster doing something well and reward them with an extrinsic reward. This is an extremely effective parenting tool. All you have to do is locate a decent compliment and time it with a good reward. 

Sam did not win the Gold Medal in his final round of the international championships when he was competing for a World Title in the under 25kg division.

However, we both gained a better understanding of proper parenting, and Sam now has some valuable lessons to pass on when it comes to raising his own children. 

Final Thoughts

Someone once told me that when you read a good book again, you don’t discover anything new in the book; you discover something new in yourself.

Simply reading an article like this can help you go deep within yourself and learn how to positively influence your youngster.

It’s been 18 years since I began my adventure to become a world champion with Sam. He never quite won the crown, but he did win the national title and an international bronze medal in kickboxing.

But by the time he’s 21, he’s graduated from university with “no debt,” a first home, and a pet axolotl named “Boba.”


  1. Psychology Today: How Do Children Learn Right From Wrong?
  2. Psychology Today: Motivating Children Without Rewards


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