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Motivating Children at School & Home

Most modern parents and teachers will use one of two techniques to motivate their children or students. The first method relies on negative consequences, as in no TV for a week if you don’t pass. The second method uses positive affirmations, as in you did a good job, and next time you’ll do even better. There’s little doubt as to which method of motivation is better for a child’s development, and this article looks at how we as parents and teachers can leverage positive affirmations to ensure we raise healthy, purpose-driven children in South Africa…

Motivating Children at Home and at School

Effects of Motivation on Child Development.

Wendy Ostroff, author of Understanding How Young Children Learn, shares that motivation is the driving desire behind all action and is the precursor and cornerstone to learning.

“The immediate satisfaction of ‘being good at’ something also has adaptive significance for cognitive growth. To motivate children and keep them primed for the best learning possible, we must understand how motivation to learn develops.”

Motivation, in both children and adults, is born out of our expectations attached to the completion of a task or project. For example, school children know that doing well in their studies will make their parents and teachers happy. Adults know that achievement leads to success, and success leads to respect in our social circles.

Ostroff suggests that there are two key factors that influence a child’s motivation: habituation and novelty.

Habituation is how we as humans get used to certain situations, like setting an air conditioner to a specific temperature. Initially, we feel the difference, but after a while we get used to the temperature and it leaves our attention.

If a child’s lessons are delivered in the same, humdrum way day in and day out, habituation forms and their attention is drawn from the lesson to something new and fun, like playing on their smart phone or talking to their friends about yesterday’s episode of Captain Underpants.

Novelty is the prevalence of ‘new things’ in our immediate surroundings. For example, children are more inclined to pay attention and feel motivated when doing schoolwork for a new teacher, or in the presence of a new child in the classroom.

How to Facilitate Self-Motivation in Children.

As parents, we want our children to be self-motivated. In other words, we want them to get on with their homework and similar tasks without us constantly having to offer rewards or threaten consequences. Self-motivation, according to Scott Turansky writing for imom.com, can be facilitated through a combination of the following actions:



  1. Set Goals
    Get your little ones to set themselves one short-term goal and one long-term goal. Make sure their goals are realistic for their capabilities, and consider getting them to write the goals out on paper. Stick the goals on their desks or bedside tables as visual reminders.
  2. Make it Competitive
    A little competition goes a long way when it comes to motivating children. They should know that life itself isn’t a competition, but being competitive improves the performance of all involved in the race, task, project, etc.
  3. Celebrate Wins
    The application of reward stickers and other methods of praise has shown to greatly improve child motivation levels both in school and at home. Celebrate when they win, and help them figure out where they went wrong when they don’t.
  4. Stay Positive
    As mentioned above, we either react to our childrens’ performance with negative consequences or positive affirmations. Children are like sponges, so if we’re negative around them or about them, they’ll feel negatively about themselves.

Kidico is proud to be supplying teachers and parents all over South Africa with colourful, motivational reward stickers and other school essentials. Connect with us today and make sure your little ones are motivated to succeed!


For more information regarding motivation in children, follow this link


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