Teaching a child to be self-driven isn’t hard; without even knowing it, you teach such motivation to your child every day. Believe it or not, even bad parents engage in activities that teach their children to be self-driven, subjecting children to external forces such as verbal and physical aggression, thereby motivating children to become passive and doubtful of themselves -- in other words, these bad parents instill a drive of harmful risk-avoidance in their children, causing the children to fight against their natural childlike tendencies. The point is that not all motivational activities are equal. Good parents, like you, purposefully engage in motivational activities that lead to positive, encouraging self-driven behavior in their children.
1. Independence Activities
Western society places importance on autonomy, but oddly enough, schools don’t often teach children the importance of being their own authority. Could it be that teachers don’t want a classroom full of rebels? Probably, but that doesn’t mean Mom can’t establish a temporary activity that makes the child the leader. Encourage an active mindset in your child with a game that sets her as the leader. Play the role of the student, letting your child play the role of the teacher. Play a game like Simon Says to encourage creativity and independent thinking.
2. Exhibition Activities
Exhibiting one’s own creativity and uniqueness can give children a positive feeling that just has to be repeated. Your child will work on creating something original with the purpose of impressing Mommy. This type of activity shows children how deep their effect on others can be and encourages actions that will bring good feelings to their peers. If done often and with enough emotional input, these activities can inspire your child to spontaneously perform for you and his peers. In such an activity, you give your child a creative work to create, all while playing the audience. Painting or coloring activities especially suit this purpose, as your child can be as expressive as he wants and you can always give a resounding “Wow!” even if you’re not into Picasso.
3. Achievement Activities
An achievement activity gives your child a challenge to overcome; in this way, you are giving the child a clear purpose -- “Solve this problem.” In this activity, as a mom, you will be giving positive encouragement to your child to persist in her efforts. By doing so without giving direct assistance, you show your child that she possesses the skill to overcome obstacles and grow as a person, without the previously needed help from Mommy. Ideas for achievement games are plentiful as long as you remember that anything is challenging to a young child. Of course, Mom knows best when deciding the difficulty level. Try giving your child a book of puzzles or mazes to accomplish, and praise her every time she completes one.
4. Cooperative Activities
Don’t overlook motivating your child to form bonds with other children. Part of being self driven is to know how to act in a social situation. Friendship and loyalty are especially important social skills that your child can learn as early as preschool. Get together with another mom-friend from preschool as an excuse to hold a joint activity with your children. Any activity that requires cooperation will help motivate and teach your child to actively join forces with his peers as a way of solving problems. Two classic examples of cooperative activities are building a fort and doll house.
- The Nature and Nurture of Learners; Meryl Englander
- NASP Resources: Motivating Learning in Young Children
- Nick White/Digital Vision/Getty Images