In order to complete most tasks successfully, your child must be motivated. Motivation is either intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is defined as that which provides personal satisfaction or personal rewards. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is when a child performs a behaviour to avoid punishment or earn a reward. Both methods of motivation can be used with success. Keep both methods of motivation in mind as you read this article.

In this article, we will discuss how to motivate kids, what motivates your child, and share some examples of what will motivate your child. The article ends with a section on what motivates your child to learn, a very important and practical application of the information in this article.

How to Motivate Kids?

How to Motivate Kids?

When we talk about how to motivate kids, we are usually talking about getting your child to do something he does not want to do. In order to do so, we need to know what his desires might be. Our goal is to strengthen his skills by determining what is important to him. Ultimately, the goal is to help him define for himself who he is, what he wants, and what he is going to do for himself. Your role is to help your kid assume that responsibility, not just do everything for him. We have provided several ways to motivate your child to be the strong individual you want them to be.

Setting Goals Can Motivate Kids

Setting realistic goals has proven to lead children to accomplish more. It is best to work with your child to set both long and short term goals and write them down. Getting your kid to help set goals increases the chance of their buying in to the process. Make sure your child has something they can work towards with milestones and an achievable end.

A Positive Mind Set Can Motivate Kids

If a task seems daunting or difficult, it may be hard for your child to approach it with a positive attitude. How can you encourage your child to be positive? Begin by clearly defining expectations. While they are working on a task, encourage with praise as they successfully complete each step. If nothing else, praise them for their persistence. Concentrate on anything that is positive and avoid negative feedback.

Games Can Motivate Kids

Let’s face it; when kids play games, they have fun. Therefore, game playing can motivate kids to learn. They is a plethora of on-line learning games available. Some of the advantages of using games to motivate learning are:

  • They can teach a variety of skills, such as teamwork and critical thinking.
  • They help create a relaxed learning environment.
  • They make learning enjoyable.
  • They work for every age.

Praise Can Motivate Kids

Sincere praise motivates a child because it addresses their need for approval from others. Concentrate the praise on both effort and achievement. Doing so encourages self-worth and self-esteem. Additionally, praise can teach children to be more persistent.

Making Things Competitive Can Motivate Kids

Positive, healthy competition can motivate your child. They do not need to compete with others, but can see how much they can improve over previous results in many areas. For example, racing to beat a previous time or swimming laps faster at an area pool can motivate your child for continuing success.

Celebrating Accomplishments Can Motivate Kids

Whenever your child accomplishes their goals, make sure you let them know that you are proud of them. Celebrate accomplishments with the family. Sometimes it helps and is appropriate to provide a reward for hard work, such as a special treat or item, such as time with a parent or a book they have wanted to read.

What Motivates Your Child?

What Motivates Your Child?


You may constantly struggle to find out what motivates your child to do their best. Our goal, of course, is self-motivation. However, remember that self-motivation does not come naturally to most kids. In this section of the article, we will look at some examples of motivation, both intrinsic and extrinsic, to help you understand and choose the best way to motivate your child.

Extrinsic Motivation

Something done for extrinsic motivation, provides your child a reward or helps them avoid punishment. The American Psychology Association defines extrinsic motivation as “an external incentive to engage in a specific activity, especially motivation arising from the expectation of punishment or reward.” Extrinsic rewards work well when a child has no interest in something or needs to learn a new skill, but finds it difficult in the initial stages. The following examples will help clarify the meaning of extrinsic motivation.

  • Wearing branded clothes to keep up with friends
  • Cleaning a bedroom to avoid parental anger
  • Competing in a contest to win a prize
  • Completing a task to look good to others
  • Doing certain work to get attention
  • Doing tasks to avoid judgment
  • Helping someone to get praise from family or friends
  • Learning to play an instrument to impress others
  • Participating in a sport to win an award
  • Doing chores to earn an allowance
  • Participating in a club of little interest to make parents proud
  • Studying to get a good grade
  • Working extra hard for praise from parents

Intrinsic Motivation

If your child does something out of intrinsic motivation, they are doing it because of their inner will. Intrinsic motivation is defined by the American Psychology Association as “an incentive to engage in a specific activity that derives from pleasure in the activity itself.” Your child does something by and for themselves without expecting a reward. Intrinsic motivation is about personal growth and recognizing purpose. The following list is not all-inclusive, but will give you an idea of intrinsic motivation you want to develop in your child.

  • Playing outside to feel fit
  • Doing crafts for the joy in the process of creating things
  • Doing sports because they make you feel happy and accomplished
  • Going to the playground because it makes you happy
  • Arguing with others because it is fun
  • Getting along with others because it makes them feel good
  • Keeping their bedroom clean because they like things tidy
  • Helping other people without rewards because it increases appreciation for life
  • Playing a strategy game because effortful thinking is enjoyable
  • Reading a book because you enjoy the story
  • Showing love to parents because you like to see them happy
  • Solving a puzzle because the challenge is fun and exciting
  • Studying a subject you find fascinating

What Motivates Your Child to Learn?

What Motivates Your Child to Learn?

Although different children respond in different ways when learning something new, every child can be motivated to become a good learner. We have provided you with the tools and ideas necessary to create a learning environment that will motivate your child to learn, not only in the classroom, but enhance your child’s desire and ability to learn outside classroom walls. The goal, of course, is to create a child with the intellectual, social, and academic foundation necessary to become a life-long learner. Apply the following strategies to help your child discover the joy of learning.

Create a Learning Atmosphere.

  • Provide a variety of reading materials.
    Your child is more likely to develop reading skills and a love for reading if his world with books, magazines, and other reading material. Additionally, you should read to your child frequently or have them read to you.
  • Use interactive games and activities to support learning.
    Non-competitive games and activities help your child learn and also measure progress.
  • Make sure you are available to provide required assistance when your child needs it.
    Mentoring and supporting your child provides an opportunity to reinforce motivation with praise and encouragement.

Let Your Child Be In Control As Much As Possible.

Although you cannot control their formal learning environment, you can allow your child to choose what activities they participate in outside of school. This does not mean letting them choose something that is out of their realm of ability, but offering choices whenever possible. For example, if your child enjoys swimming, offer a choice of a competitive swim team or water polo.

Create an Atmosphere of Open and Sincere Communication.

Encourage your child to express an opinion about their education. Creating an open atmosphere where he feels comfortable expressing his likes, dislikes, or concerns helps validate that their feelings matter. You do not need to share the same opinion. Statements such as, “I understand you do not like math, so we will work on it together,” helps them remain engaged in the learning process.

Discover and Focus Upon Your Child’s Interests.

Help your child discover areas and subjects of interest. If he loves cars, help him explore interesting and engaging books about them. You might even wish to have your child help with minor car maintenance, such as an oil change or windshield wiper replacement. Learning becomes more exciting and fun when the subject is one your child loves.

Discover and Employ Your Child’s Learning Style.

Your child has a way of learning that works best for them. The fundamental learning styles are: auditory, logical, physical, social, and solitary, verbal, and visual. Your child may have one dominant learning style or use a mix of several. Once you and your child know which learning style to use, you can improve his ability to learn which increases motivation as success is achieved. Additionally, some children must have total quiet to concentrate and others do better with music or white noise in the background. You may need to try several approaches, but finding your child’s learning style is an important step in providing motivation.

Focus On Mastering Content, Not Performance.

Focus on what your child is learning, not on how he is performing. Additionally, focus on his strengths. Both provide positive reinforcement and teach your child the following:

  • Actual learning is more important than grades.
  • Your concern is for him, not about how well he does.
  • You appreciate his effort.

Help Your Child Develop Good Habits.

A disorganized child often feels overwhelmed and frustrated. Assist your child in organizing his books, papers, and a suitable study area at home. Find the best way to keep track of assignments and due dates. Once your child feels in control of his learning, motivation can increase.

Be Positive and Enthusiastic About Learning.

Share in your child’s learning process. Discover new information together. If you are excited about a subject, share your enthusiasm. Encourage learning, letting your child know how well they are doing and that you believe in their success. Nothing is quite as motivating as excitement and enthusiasm.

Acknowledge and Celebrate Achievements.

Younger children especially respond to constant, positive, reinforcement. Remember to recognize and celebrate educational achievements, no matter how small. Watch for successful application of good study habits and comment on their organization and neatness. Consider a special reward for completion of a project or a good grade on a test. Compliment your child sincerely, especially in the presence of others.

Create an Attitude of Life-Long Learning.

Try as much as possible to encourage your child to be aware of and explore the world around them. Ask questions and make connections to formal learning. For example, while shopping, ask when something is priced as multiples, how much it would be for one item. Categorizing and classifying what is seen and experienced helps memory as well as motivation. What you wish to develop in your child in an internal motivation to learn whenever and wherever they may be.



Nothing gets accomplished without some type of motivation. For a child, that motivation is usually provided by a parent. Although each child is different, certain intrinsic and extrinsic factors can be successfully utilized to motivate your child at home and in the classroom. We hope this article has provided useful information to assist you in motivating your own child, so that they can develop to their full potential in all areas of their lives. Remember, the greatest gift you can give your child is yourself – your time, attention, and appreciation go a long way in motivating your child for success.