Written by JEANNENE S. for Who’s Teaching the Babies?®

If you’re a “Type-A personality” like myself, with an oldest child mentality to boot, you understand the dilemma I often face in my mind. Whether in the workplace, in friendships, counseling others, family matters, or raising your kids, the question arises of, “What motivates others?” There are admittedly many factors that contribute to this discussion depending on the situation. However, in the context of raising our kids—who are most likely different from us in at least some ways—how do you teach motivation? Is motivation something that can be taught?

I’m sure we’ve all observed that if a need is great enough, or even a desire, motivation for any person is easier to access. There seems to be three major categories in determining whether a child is motivated. The first two are: belief that what they are moving towards is obtainable, or a belief that what they are moving towards will be beneficial in some way. Coupled with these beliefs is their capacity—short term versus long term goals. So, it can be difficult for a child to see the benefit of working towards something if they don’t believe it is obtainable, and it can be difficult for a child to want to obtain something that they don’t believe is beneficial (understanding benefits can even be avoiding undesirable consequences or simply doing the right thing). Finally, it can be difficult for a child to be motivated towards either of these if they do not yet have the capacity to persevere until they reach those goals.

So, how do we as parents help to support this tripod to stay balanced, and to encourage motivation? Similar to a camera tripod, if any of the legs are shorter than the others, the perspective will be skewed. However, we as parents can watch to see which areas or legs of the tripod are uneven, and provide support in that area. Things like encouragement, calling to memory previous accomplishments and growth, and reminding our kids they have permission to grow and learn from their mistakes are all great ways to support the obtainable leg of the tripod. Reminding our kids of the benefits of hard work and perseverance—like building muscles with practice—can help the beneficial leg of the tripod. Finally, what can build the third leg, or capacity, is giving our kids opportunities to figure things out for themselves and allowing them to not only fail, but to get back up or persevere until they reach their goals.

This means that they will probably do things differently than we would have, not only due to their experience level, but also because they see things differently than we do, based on who God made them to be. That’s a good thing—and even a stretching thing for us—because ultimately, we all need God’s expression to the world through them. When we give our kids these types of opportunities, their perspectives of the benefits of reaching their goals, as well as their abilities to obtain them, will positively shift. Not only this, but their capacities will also increase from short to long term goals.

So, here are some practical and Biblical tips for Building Motivation in our kids:

What does the Bible say about motivation?

Remind them that the Word of God says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Colossians 3:23, ESV. Ultimately, they are fulfilling the purpose God made them for when they serve Him heartily, and He has given them the ability to do that.

What does the Bible say about your kids?

Remind them of who they are—created for a unique purpose as part of God’s greater purpose, that only they can fulfill in unity with the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12-26.

Encourage and Build up your kids.

Do this based on who God says they are and what He has done for them, as well as acknowledging and appreciating their growth. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV.

Remind your kids that they have permission to grow

Failure is part of growing, and so is persevering! “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again…” Proverbs 24:16 NIV.

Give your kids opportunities to work and be challenged.

Allow them not only opportunities to figure things out but also to work hard until they obtain set goals, even if they do things differently. “In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16, HCSB.

Talk about dreams and goals with your kids.

Help them to seek God and set Kingdom goals for themselves, and talk about steps they can take to reach those goals. Give them the opportunities to meet those goals. Then, ask they how they could improve those goals in the future. “Commit your activities to the Lord, and your plans will be achieved.” Proverbs 16:3, HCSB.

For more information on this topic, or for guidance and practical tips in raising your kids in a life-giving way, check out this article from ALLPRODAD.COM.


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