Motivation comes from leading, modeling

Published 7:01 am Sunday, June 12, 2016

QUESTION: Help! No matter what I do, I can’t seem to motivate my youngest child to do much of anything. I find myself lecturing, which isn’t working at all.

 ANSWER: I think you would appreciate listening to the Parenting Resource Center’s “Celebrate Calm” CDs by Kirk Martin which can be requested through your public library.

You’re right, lecturing doesn’t motivate kids; lecturing makes parents look weak and helpless. We motivate by leading and modeling good behavior. Lecturing is what we often do when we feel anxious about our children. Unfortunately, it does the opposite of what we want to accomplish; lecturing undermines relationships and it sounds like begging to our kids.

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Remember that children change. Children grow into themselves. We are not the same people we were at 8, 15 or 25, so give your children space to develop. Spend some intentional time picturing your child beyond the disturbing behavior you are experiencing right now, which may mean visualizing your child 2, 5 or 10 years from now. Once you get the picture, focus on it briefly two or three times a day. It’s likely that you’ll begin to get more positive pictures for the future. You’ve heard it said that we become what people expect us to become. So, putting energy into positive expectations is a valuable parenting practice.

Remember that children progress on their own timeline. Some of our children are late bloomers. Some of our children sabotage their own success because they aren’t ready for the challenges they are facing. Being a patient parent may well be the best gift you can give your child. Kirk Martin’s wise advice is that every time you get anxious and are about to lecture, sit down, instead, and affirm your child; focus on one area of success and a positive choice your child has made lately.

Finally, get busy with your own life. If your whole life has been your kids, their lack of focus or poor decisions will drive you crazy. So, get engaged in your own pursuits and follow your own passions as your kids get older. It will give you a healthy focus for your energy and gives your kids some space to step up and grow up.

If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in child raising, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out and Celebrate Calm resources at the Parenting Resource Center Specialty Library (105 First Street SE, Austin).