As a parent, your primary responsibility is to provide a safe and secure environment where your children can grow and help them become happy and productive adults. In this article, former naval officer, Captain Jako Hall suggests strategies for motivating children to achieve their potential.
Parents have a responsibility to love and care for their children, a duty to provide for their physical and emotional needs, and to teach them to become law-abiding, productive citizens wherever they live. This obligation can be accomplished, in large part, by nurturing in your children a disposition to engage in goal-directed behaviour that will help them live with purpose and enjoy the benefits of their accomplishments.
To get children to do what they deem necessary, parents often resort to motivation strategies that include rewards for specific behaviour. For example, if Sally makes her bed every day for a week, she is given a new toy. Reward strategies are typically short-lived because, while they motivate the child to modify their behaviour to earn the reward, the external motivation is limited only to that behaviour and reward.
The objective should be to teach children to become self-directed. To learn how to set goals and experience the satisfaction of achieving their goals. Teaching children to be self-motivated will serve them well in all aspects of their lives.
Rewards such as stickers, additional privileges, and even praise can serve as valuable tools to get your child started on the path toward learning to be self-motivated, but parents should not stop there. A little external motivation can be useful to grease the wheels of action, but only internal motivation will lead your child to lifelong success.
The recipe for success has two main ingredients – self-motivation and passion.
The more passionate your child is about a goal, the less external motivation they need to strive toward it. Help them learn what they are passionate about. It is not always immediately evident to the child or their parents where their passion lies, and it takes experimentation and trial and error.
Try using a vision board to help children identify what inspires them. Help them discover what they are passionate about in the various aspects of their lives, such as physical activities or sports, academics, and personal development. It will likely be different for each child in a family.
This visual representation, created by the child, not the parents, will help them identify what motivates them and what steps are needed to achieve their goals. Soon mundane tasks, practising the piano for 30 minutes a day, for example, are now seen by the child as a necessary step toward achieving their goal of becoming a concert pianist – not just a family rule that they must follow because mom said so.
It takes patience, lots of patience. Not every child that wants to become an astronaut at age seven will achieve that goal. Still, if they are allowed to learn the self-satisfaction of accomplishing some of the incremental steps leading toward that lofty goal, they will be equipped, as their dreams change over the years, to achieve whatever they set their mind to do.
So, motivating children is not so much about getting them to do what you want them to do. It is about helping them identify their passion and experience the satisfaction of accomplishments.
About Jako Hall
Jako Hall is an experienced mariner and a former naval officer known for his strong work ethic and ability to lead and motivate crews. He pursued Maritime Studies at the University of Technology in Cape Town and has received the highest level of training in Navigation and Seamanship during his years in the Navy. After 13 distinguished years in the Navy, Jako joined the superyacht industry, following his passion for creating unique and exclusive experiences for high-net-worth clients. He’s managed multi-million euro projects that required attention to detail and efficiency and has a proven track record of operating at sea in remote and unsupported areas.