The Moore American

January 22, 2013

Is there a way to motivate children to do well?


The Moore American

MOORE — Q: I’m sure I sound like a typical parent, but my son is really smart, yet he’s satisfied with making Cs. Is there a way to motivate him to do better?

— Sam, Noble

Dear Sam,

If we had the answer to this, we would be millionaires. Here are a few ideas that have worked with different kids — but, remember, all kids are motivated by something.

First, try to figure out what motivates your son. Some kids are motivated by praise that gives them self-confidence. Money is also a great motivator for some. We both had sons who thrived on getting paid for their good grades. Relief from certain chores could be a motivator for some kids, as well as more time with computer/friends/TV.

All kids have something that they look forward to. You need to figure out what it is with your son and pursue that as a “reward” for good grades. No one dislikes praise and encouragement.

Don’t wait for final grades at the end of the semester but continually monitor grades and administer praise weekly. This means having a conversation with your son and being aware of what is going on in his classes.

Negative reinforcement does absolutely no good in motivating students. Bite your tongue if you feel it necessary to degrade him for a poor grade during the week. Instead, ask him if he realizes why he made the bad grade and give him the power to do something to fix it.

Although it’s hard for many parents to understand, kids really do want to please you, and they thrive on your approval and affection.

Q: My daughter recently left elementary school and moved to the next level. She had been with the same group of friends since kindergarten. Now that she’s at a different school, it seems to me that she has an entirely different group of friends and has left those from elementary school behind. I knew those kids and their parents, and I’m saddened and worried by this change. Is this a normal transition or should I be concerned?

— Suzanne, Del City

Dear Suzanne,

Usually, several elementary schools feed one middle-level school. The pool of friends is much larger. Kids at this level meet new friends in different classes as well as through various activities, locker assignments, lunch times, etc. Meeting new friends is nothing to worry about.

Abandoning all old friends is disconcerting. A conversation with your daughter about her elementary friends may prove to you that those friends are now making decisions she doesn’t agree with, or they may be hanging out with people she doesn’t like. On the other hand, you have the responsibility to your daughter to get to know these new friends and their parents.

Decide if she is making good choices. As kids move from grade level to grade level, they are grouped more according to areas of interest than by a single class. It grows even more once college arrives. These interests usually dictate who their friends are because they have something in common.

Should you be concerned? No. Should you be aware and involved? Absolutely!

Jeannie and Sally are certified school counselors with 49 years combined educational experience. Jeannie has two children, Sally three. The responses presented don’t necessarily represent the views of any certain school district. Please send questions to questions.classact@gmail. com.