Motivation for Kids: Teaching Children Diligence, Passion and Resilience
How can you encourage your child to work hard and to not give up? Tips for motivating kids and teaching diligence.
Discipline, concentration and hard work are often seen as essential to doing great things. But how can we motivate kids to do great things when taking the risk to work hard often means coming face-to-face with feelings of discouragement, frustration and low self-esteem?
Diligence is defined as a quality of performing a certain task with efficiency, and with heart. It means doing hard things with an attitude of goodwill, and can stimulate a feeling of being trusted and responsible. It emphasizes the quality of taking care. Doing things with love, care and precision often leads to a very special kind of personal satisfaction that is the reward for diligence.
The difference between a champion and someone who fails is not the medals or awards, but that they tried in the first place. When we observe successful people, they often say how at some point in their lives that they gave their all – training, or improving some talent, and then followed it up with practice – to get to where they are now.
It’s always good to teach children, in both our words and through example, that failing is normal, and what often feels like a “failure” is a step towards something more profound. It’s good to remind children, as well as ourselves, that the most successful people are those who do not stop at the first or second failure, but have the resilience to pick themselves back up, and keep working hard for their desire.
Habits and discipline go hand-in-hand. A habit is an activity that we carry out in such a repetitive way that we later do it automatically (for example: brushing teeth when getting up, jogging for an hour in the morning or praying before eating). Encouraging positive habits in our children creates healthy patterns of behaviour.
Eventually, children who manage to create positive habits will be able to use the sense of discipline for themselves (For example they might think: “I am not motivated to do this, but I know that doing it will help me in other ways”).
Help kids understand social rules, benefits and outcomesIn order to be diligent, children need to understand that we have rules in society, which help us all live together. As parents, helping our children to behave in healthy, co-operative ways can likewise help them to understand that human responsibilities walk beside human rights, in making the world a better place for all of us.
Help kids to plan out tasksEncourage children to learn to organise themselves, their time and their belongings, and show them tools to help them plan how they can achieve those things which mean something to them.
Measure and evaluate performanceHelp children to get used to reflecting on how well an activity has gone, and to define what else needs to be done to improve, through measuring and evaluating what they have done, and encouraging them to try to do so in a spirit of objectivity.
Make use of their enthusiasmChildren can sometimes find it hard to carry out a task when there is no immediate enjoyment or benefit, so invite them to carry out activities they are passionate about. This can be done through open and caring conversations which help them to understand, and harness, their passions.
Help kids avoid procrastinationRemind them of the saying “do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today”, remembering that they also need plenty of time to rest.
Practice punctuality from an early ageChildren go where their parents take them. Strive to be punctual and give them strategies so that they can also practice it, since respecting one’s own time, as well as the time of others, can help a child on the way to achieving their personal goals.
Value a wide range of skillsEnjoy trying these suggestions at home, and remember that it is in combination with other skills (such as patience, creativity and kindness), that diligence will help your child become successful in whatever they set out to achieve.
Jimmy the Cat and GardeningA lovely story about Jimmy and his passion to grow a new garden, with valuable lessons about diligence, patience and friendship.
Catch A MoonAn endearing story about Anna and her brother Will. They dream of catching the moon. In the story they learn that by combining their creative imaginations with diligent effort, they can find a wonderful way to fly.
Seven Days: A Walk to Mount FujiA little mouse sets out on a very long walk to Mount Fuji and discovers many marvels along the way, including the rewards of being diligent.
Article by Luzmery M. Romero Gamboa and Fleur Rodgers
Luzmery works in the area of clinical psychology as a psychotherapist for children, adolescents and families. Since 2016, she has run a Psychological Center in Venezuela called Psicoluz. She offers workshop facilitations to parents, is involved in recreational activities for children, and has been working as a freelancer since 2017 performing online psychotherapy.
Fleur is a meditation teacher in France and uses a compassion and loving-kindness based approach to meditation and slow-minded living. Fleur posts regularly to Instagram @rodgers.fleur . She has two children, is a qualified teacher in adult education and is the founder of Timeouttobreathe.com