Do I just not want to make time for him? Am I too self-involved? And then of course, I go over and help him.
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Does this happen in your home? More than we like to admit, we jump in and help our kids when we know they are capable of accomplishing a task themselves. Sometimes this is a painful thing to do, but in the end it will motivate your child to tackle future problems on their own. She completed it there with the help of her grandparents but the cart broke apart on the ride home.
I stood strong. It is so frustrating when something breaks I see how hard you are trying. I know that you can figure out how to fix it. Thankfully, my husband and I are both on the same page and when he told her basically the same thing, she finally buckled down and did it herself. She fixed the LEGO cart. And even though there was a ton of crying, we showed her that we understood her struggle and felt confident that she could figure it out.
Many would jump to the conclusion that academic excellence is bolstered by self-esteem, which can certainly help. But there's a dark side to focusing solely on helping your child boost his or her self-esteem as you'll see in a second.
Self-esteem is a judgment about how valuable I am: very valuable, not so good, not valuable at all. In contrast, self-compassion isn't about self-evaluation at all. It's about being kind to oneself. Self-compassion is a healthy source of self-worth because it's not contingent and it's unconditional.
It's much more stable over time because it's not dependent on external markers of success such as grades. So am I saying we should teach children to not care about grades? Not at all. It's a matter of whether your child sees grades as the ultimate end goal or a positive side effect of embracing the learning process. Neff says most of us motivate ourselves through self-criticism. Your child is aware of the consequences of failing that test.
But the side effects of this approach are perfectionism, a fear of failure , and even procrastination because the fear of not measuring up can be paralyzing.
Neff's research shows that focusing instead on self-compassion shifts how your child self-motivates. Since the direct end-goal is not as much about achievement grades, becoming class president , it encourages students to experiment, take risks, try new approaches, and to keep going after making a mistake rather than feeling defeated by it. In this way, behavior is motivated by the pursuit of a passion learning and growing , not avoidance of a negative fear.
One way to help our children make their dreams and aspirations real is by creating a dream board. They can use it to post images and text that remind them of what they want. Encouraging children to add to their dream boards can be a motivator in itself! In order to pursue their dreams, children have to formulate goals in the first place. Using this technique, one large goal can be broken up into smaller goals.
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This technique is ideal for helping children learn to work through their goals in a rigorous way. If your child wants to be an engineer, show them that success in geometry class is one rung on the ladder to becoming an engineer. It can be hard for anyone, especially children, to maintain intrinsic motivation. Reality might not align cleanly with what they imagined when laying out their goals.
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Giving children the opportunity to collaborate on achieving their dreams can help them overcome the challenges they encounter. Parents, siblings, and friends can collaborate on the creation of a dream board or goal ladders. If that collaboration is toward a shared goal like a family trip, for example , the collective motivation will be even stronger. You may also be tempted to praise and reward every time they complete a step on their goal ladder. It seems that adult surveillance is enough of an extrinsic motivator to inhibit the development of intrinsic motivation.
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There are areas where children will need parental help and guidance, and we should give it to them. But we should also give them the freedom to work away from our watchful eye. Too often, hovering leads to parents taking over the task, and children getting resentful for having been preempted. Instead of micromanaging, let them work independently, and be available for help and feedback when they ask for it. Our questions to our children might bring up areas they never would have thought about on their own. For example, if they're having success with their dream board, we could encourage them to teach a younger sibling how to make one.