It’s back to school time again! Certainly, we have enjoyed the company of our children for the summer. As happy as we may be to have them back at their studies, our fondest wishes are reserved for their feelings. We want them to want to return to school. To want to succeed. To enjoy the quest. To work hard, perhaps even harder, this year.

What can we do to help? Three rules of motivation

Motivation comes from inside.

Children motivate themselves when they discover we are offering them something they want. This means that our job is to lead them to understand why they should motivate themselves.

Your child is already motivated to do those things that they feel are important or of value to them. They lose motivation when they are expected to do things they do not understand and that do not appear to be important to them.

So what happens when our kids start back to school seemingly motivated and then lose that momentum? Where does their motivation go?

No matter how hard it is to believe, our kids are capable of logical and rational thought. How they are acting is a direct result of some conclusion or feeling they have – usually not consciously held – about themselves. If they don’t appear motivated, it’s because, deep down, they have concluded that giving the appearance of trying is not in their best interest. If I can’t succeed – don’t try! Or something like that.

The trick for us, as parents, is to make sure that our expectations are properly understood at our child’s level, not just at ours. Ask me why you should learn to succeed in school and I will tell you stuff about success, self-esteem, graduation, university or college, getting a good job and so on. Good answer, but what if you are 10 years old? What does that answer mean? Nothing! It has absolutely no motivating power to the child at all. It must mean something at your own child’s level or it is just rain being shed off a duck’s back.

The Last True Secret

And finally, here is the last, true secret. Motivation is a result of the action you take to achieve your values and goals! Action comes first; motivation follows. For the first few months of every new school year, help your kids devise a study time, help them get and stay organized and make sure they know how to start every assignment or homework piece. Enrolling in a good study program will help.

Help them get started! That’s the key “starting” action! Action first, feelings later. Don’t expect deep feelings of motivation to arrive before action. Start the engines first. The celebration comes later!