For their own good: Inspire kids to apply themselves
Convincing children to apply themselves to tasks like schoolwork and household chores can be frustrating for both of you. Without resorting to bribes or threats, try these simple tips:
• Focus on progress, not perfection. Keep your expectations realistic. If you push your child to be the best quarterback, or demand that your lawn look as if a professional gardener tends to it, the pressure can get in the way of a strong effort. Focus on self-improvement and steady progress.
• Give them a choice. If kids feel they have a choice about what to do and how to do it, they’ll try harder. Point out what talents you think they may have, provide options and opportunities, and be honest about what it would take to excel in any chosen activity.
• Make them feel good. Give lots of praise. They’ll want to do more if they feel good about what they’re doing. But make sure you’re sincere, honest, and specific in your praise. Point out their strengths.
• Use rewards wisely. Sometimes a reward helps children get started in an activity or motivates them to continue when they’re losing interest. But offer rewards only to give them a jump start. After that, replace the reward with verbal encouragement.
• Talk about your own work. When you share your own sense of accomplishment in your work or hobbies, kids may be motivated to work harder so they have their own successes to share with you.