Got a Spirited, but Unmotivated 😑 Child?


One of the most common complaints I hear from parents about their kids is, “why is he/she so unmotivated and lazy?”

Are you looking for help to motivate your children from zero drive to independent success?

My clients know all too well that distractions like social media, YouTube, video games, and Netflix only compound the problem.

I've got 5 tips for you so you can take a look at some mindset shifts and tools you can use to motivate your children.

Tip 1: Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Otherwise known as "The Mom in the Mirror."

Oh, I used to make the huge mistake most of my clients make when it comes to the effective discipline of their kids: We get too emotionally involved.

When there are responsibilities and school work that need to be done, getting emotionally attached doesn't help. Instead of focusing on your children’s attitude, speed, and technique in completing the task, try focusing on the hard work put into getting the job done (and yes, how well it was done but be reasonable).

In other words, don't micromanage.

When you micromanage, you become a frustrating mess and fear that your kids won’t grow up to be responsible adults one day. That’s called apocalyptic thinking and guess what?

Emotions are contagious.

And your children will pick up on your anxiety. They'll meltdown or get upset or, eventually, they know that you will end up cleaning up after them or fix things for them. 

We teach people how to treat us.

That is no way to really motivate a child. In fact, by doing that you are making the problem worse.

If that's you, you're in good company. Many parents fall victim to the well-intentioned trend of doing too much for their kids (aka "helicopter parenting, lawnmower parenting, bubble-wrap parenting, hovercraft parenting, etc.).

When your emotional investment in helping your kids succeed goes overboard, you can actually deplete your children’s motivation to do things on their own.

Tip 2: Tell them once

Do you lecture or nag?

I thought so. 

Think about it. When your parents lectured you did you think

Oh, now that I’ve listened to my mom scold me for ten minutes, I’m for sure going to do my chores on time!


And neither do your kids.

If you want to deliver effective discipline to help your children take responsibility for their own lives, you must remember to hold your tongue once you've already told our kids what you expect them to do.

**this is really hard and I do not do this perfectly, either**

If your child fails to obey, save the argument.

There will be a time for discipline in the form of a meaningful consequence later. Here we must “strike while the iron is cold” to be effective. 

When we wait until we’re calm, we can get creative because are not emotionally involved.

One thing I’d like to note: When we are faced with defiance from our kids, it is not because they are bad kids, it’s because our delivery and effective discipline skills need some adjustments and tweaking, as per Dr. Alan Kazdin of the Yale Parenting Center.

Just to reiterate from the above tip, it's essential to focus on your emotional investment in whether or not your children comply with your requests.

Parents tend to become more patient when they are emotionally uninvolved, and they can then better communicate what is at stake for their kids when they do not stay responsible for their duties.

Tip 3: Stay consistent

Inconsistency breeds confusion.

Staying consistent with non-negotiable consequences will help our kids realize that mom and dad mean business when it comes to household and academic responsibilities.

For example, let's say your daughter is consistently turning in work late. Lowered grades aren't solving the problem. Now you decide to get involved.

Sit your daughter down for a mini family meeting (Step Five, Family Meetings). Talk with her about the activities she enjoys doing when she's done with her chores (Step 4, Shared Responsibilities), and schoolwork. Let her know what limits/boundaries you have for those activities and sincerely let her know that you support her in doing all those fun things. Now tell her what your expectations of her are so she can enjoy all those fun things (Step Six, Consequences).

Then, before the meeting ends, ask "What did you just agree to?" And once she answers, you know you are ready to hold her accountable.

The next time she doesn't meet your (reasonable) expectation, impose a consequence. And if she decides to "hurry up and do it," do not remove the consequence.

Yup. Let the consequence stand.

The consequence was implemented because your daughter did do what she agreed to do. She was late. The consequence is because she didn't do what she agreed to.

Tip 4: Create an ultimate parenting plan

Take the time to create a parenting plan with your spouse or partner; trust me, it’s worth the time and effort. When a written plan is followed through, as a parent, you are less likely to be weakened by defiance from an unmotivated child. Get my Six Steps to help.

Tip 5: Be the example

You cannot preach what you do not act on yourself.

Your kids watch you, and as much as it feels your kids are ignoring you, the truth is that you are a huge influence in your children’s lives.

In fact, you are the biggest influence in their lives, even when they are teens.

When your behaviors contradict our words, your children will lose respect for you. To be taken seriously, you must walk the walk. I call this Leadership Parenting. If you want your children to stay motivated to do the right thing and lead a more prosperous life, you must lead the way.


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