Boosting your child's ability to motivate himself helps prepare him for life.

How to Increase Self-Motivation in Children

by Stephen Maughan

Our kids can get bored or give up too easily on activities such as writing. You might have asked your little boy to put on his shoes 20 times, and all he does is sit down and wait for you to put them on for him. You might think he acts only when he feels like it -- it can seem tricky to motivate him. However, some activities can help boost your child's self-motivation.

Make the activity fun. Psychologist G.C. Davenport suggests that making tasks more fun for children will them motivate them. If she doesn't seem interested in learning to write her name, you can make the activity of writing more interesting. Let her choose what color pen to write with and praise her for doing the activity. You could say, "You are doing so well at writing your name, if you write your name now for me, you can get a sticker." Eventually, doing the activity will give her the satisfaction of having done well and you won't even need to bribe her with reward stickers anymore!

Talk to your child in specific language they can understand. For example, if your child asks why they have to put on their coat, don't say, "Because we will be late, so hurry up!" because they don't have a strong grasp of time. Instead, say, "Well, because Grandma is waiting for us at the park now" in a friendly tone. Eventually they will associate putting on their coat on with something exciting, and this will get them motivated to do it next time.

Don't force your child. According to professor and author Dr. Burton White, children vary in their rate of development. The more you push your child into doing something they don't want to, the less likely they are to do it. Remember what is appropriate for your child's age and development, and don't expect her to run before she can walk. Trying to motivate your 2-year-old to read books by herself won't get you far, but showing her picture books will give her confidence and motivation for reading when she is ready to start reading.


  • Remember that children go through different stages of development, and sometimes a dreamy child that seems hard to motivate could become a confident and motivated child in the future.


  • An Introduction to Child Development; G.C. Davenport
  • Educating the Infant and Toddler; Burton White, PhD


  • The Child's Construction of Knowledge; George Forman and David Kuschner

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