October 6, 2014
There are several ways to look at motivation, and of course many books have been written about it. In this brief blog I'd like to focus on one of the simplest ways to look at this topic, pain or gain. At a later time I'll write more about other ways of thinking about motivation, but this one has been around almost as long as the human race. You can read more about this at Tim Elmore's website http://growingleaders.com/blog/two-greatest-motivators-students/.
Simply put, we do things to either avoid pain or receive gain. Stepping on a nail makes me more cautious when I'm around construction material. Getting a speeding ticket causes me to slow down, at least temporarily. Some insurance companies offer lower rates for avoiding a speeding ticket, and that may cause me to change my driving habit in an attempt to receive this gain. Likewise, I may set a goal for myself and change my behaviors to achieve this goal. We change behavior to avoid pain or achieve gain.
So applying this to students, the question becomes, do you as a parent know what they want to gain and what they want to avoid. Be careful about answering this question, because the answer changes. We may THINK we know, but as our children grown, they are intrigued by new things in life. Watch, listen, and ask them what they want to have. Help them see that it's not always objects. They may want something intangible, such as a hug or a listening ear from a parent, but are not able to express that. Watch, listen, and ask what makes them afraid. It may be as simple as lightning or as unrealistic as zombies. Often though, the fear is how their parents are getting along or that the other kids in school won't like them. Remind them that you can't change other people. You can only change how you respond to others. In fact when we act to exert control over that which we CAN control, our sphere of influence expands. We actually begin to have control over more of our environment. That may be a hard concept to act upon, but most children really can grasp it.
In short watch, listen, and talk to your kids. Get to know what makes them afraid and what they want. Help them understand what they can do to move toward what they want and away from their fear. Help them understand what they control and what they don't. As you do this you will be a real blessing to your children. And last but not least, teach them to pray for the wisdom and strength that comes only from God, our Heavenly Father.
In His Service,