My sister and I were discussing again (I think my sister is going to play a key role in most of my blogs!). We were talking about how to create self motivated kids. Kids who do things either because they want to or because they are told, not for a reward. So how are such kids created?
Use the Golden Rule
Treat your children how you would like to be treated. This will help their self esteem because they know that you respect them, and will respect you in return. Now this doesn’t mean that you should be their “friend”. You are the parent and as such you have authority. You just need to enforce that authority with love and respect.
Along with the Golden Rule, if you are honest with your children it will help them to trust you when it really counts. Don’t use phrases like “Because I said so”, explain the reasons for your rule or decision. Even if your children can’t understand the reasons yet, someday they will, and they will appreciate the fact that you have always been honest with them.
Negativity breeds negativity. Have you ever been around a really negative person? How does it make you feel? Do you feel negative while you are around them? If you speak negatively about people (even if you are on the phone, your kids can hear you), or if you have a negative attitude about things, they will have a negative attitude about doing things they don’t want to do. If we always do the things we don’t want to do with a smile on our face, and sometimes if the opportunity presents itself we can explain to our children that we don’t want to do this specific thing, but we can make it fun by having a good attitude about it. A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down! In addition to having a good attitude yourself, teach your kids how good it feels to have a good attitude!
Teach Your Kids to be Healthy
When you empower them to make healthy decisions about their body they will feel like they have more control over their lives. Teach them how good it feels to exercise, and eat good foods. Give them the tools they need to make these decisions for themselves. Let them help you plan menus for your family. Give them some pre-approved choices and let them tell you which days to make what. Sometimes even let them veto a recipe.
Let Them Make Choices
Don’t decide everything for your children. Give them choices for lunch, what clothes to wear, etc. The best way to do this is to narrow your choices down to a couple and then let them decide from those choices. You are sure that the choice is going to be acceptable, and they feel good because they got to pick! (great article with guidelines of giving your kids choices!)
Give Them Chores & Allowance
It may sound counter-intuitive to give your kids allowance based on their chores. But hear me out. Kids can learn to manage money at a very young age. Helping them learn the value of their money is a skill that is above all others. I challenge that the skill learned by managing their own money is a skill in self motivation (not in trading chores for money, but in what they do with the money once they have it!) Allowance can help them learn to manage their money. Give the allowance in response to job performance. With the allowance show them how to spend a little and save a little. They will feel very confident in themselves as they are able to manage their money! The self motivated kid will work and save for what they want most. The kid without self motivation will try to get money through other means, most begging.
Have them do service projects for other people, whether it is mowing the lawn of the neighbor down the street whose husband is out of town, or donating some of their toys to kids who aren’t as fortunate. Service will help them to feel good about themselves, and also to see that sometimes you can’t always have what you want. As our kids are getting tucked in each night, we always ask the question, What did you do to make someone’s life better today? It helps it become top of mind for them!
Hopefully using these tips you can teach your kids to respect you and the things around them.