How to Motivate Your Unmotivated Child: Part 1

how to motivate children

“School is so boring.”

“I don’t feel like doing anything.”

“I don’t want to go, I’d rather play Xbox.”

“I just don’t care.”

“It’s too hard. I’m quitting.”

I’ve heard some of those things from my kids over the years. Have you? Words like these indicate a lack of motivation. So, what should you do? Well, author Joe White provided me some invaluable insight in putting together this list.   Here are the first 3 ways for how to motivate children. 

1. Have realistic expectations of your child. Not every child will make straight A’s or start on their sports team. Not every child will go to college and get their MBA. “Type A” driven moms, and dads like me, need to be really careful not to impose their personalities on their children and expect they will be just like us. Also, we should not try to make our dreams, their dreams.

2. Be a model of motivation. Your personal example is key to motivating your child. If you are glued to the tube, you can’t expect your child to want to go out in the back yard and play sports. If you constantly complain about work, what message is that sending to your child? Your child needs to see you loving your work, exercising, and celebrating goals achieved. 5 Ways Parents Can Be a Role Model for Kids will help you to be the best model you can be for your kids.

3. Make sure your child breaks a mental and physical “sweat.” Your child may think, “Why do chores when the housekeeper will do them?” Or, “No need to mow the lawn. We’ve got a lawn guy to do it.” Or, “Why should I write the paper when Mom will do it for me?” 5 Reasons Your Child Should Work explains the importance of work. A well-developed and motivated child needs to do some physical labor around the house. He also needs to learn how to think on his own.

Along with laziness, here are 4 more bad kid behavior issues to break in your kids early.


Next week I’ll discuss the 4 remaining ways to motivate your unmotivated child. Do you have some ways on how to motivate children? Please share your comments.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • baolson

    Great topic – I struggle with this in my daughter.

  • Baolson, I hope my ideas help you in that struggle! Let me know how it goes.

  • Don’t expect your child to actually model your habits. They are probably very different than you. Don’t ask them to write things down because it works for you. If they don’t work that way, you just build resentment. You should ask them what works for them and work with that. I have a child who thinks and is motivated very differently than my husband or me. It’s very hard for us to understand it, but it’s important that we do.

  • Sandra

    Tough LOVE. (Goes well with #3). Sounds like an oxymoron but the emphasis is on the Love! Firmness with an understanding smile. Remember the Karate Kid movie…’wax on wax off’? It takes some real creativity and forethought (energy); but no one is alone with this. There are a lot of folks willing to help. GOD is there to help most of all! : )

  • Guest

    So, about the “Your child needs to see you loving your work” part. What if you don’t love your work?

  • MPK

    I don’t think my son had, nor most boys have, any clue WHY they have to go to school. I know I didn’t, until about the 4th grade when my dad began taking me to work with him on an ocassional basis. Girls are mostly different, as they find a social life at school and love to do the things that their teachers – almost all women – have them doing. Boys cannot sit still. So traditional early education is just torture for them. They learn by doing, and they need to have their entire being involved in the activity. Girls, not so much. So we REALLY need to do a redesign of our education methods to begin with. What we did 100 years ago, and are still doing today, does not serve boys. In the meantime, our kids need to have a heart knowledge of what the benefits of learning are to their quality of life later on. They need to be able to see it as an investment of their efforts for a later return. It cannot just be some adult telling them why. They need to be able to see the difference in real life.

  • Deb

    Find something you do love (I know it’s possible because I’ve done it a few times). Why waste your life on a job you hate?
    Otherwise just don’t talk about it in front of the kids

  • Lawlers_Law

    just a suggestion…maybe add a link to part two. Great suggestions!