How to Motivate Your Students to Succeed

Introduction to Motivation

So you want to know how to motivate your child to succeed? You want how to motivate your students to succeed and stick with positive behaviors? However, what is motivation to a child? Motivation is the willingness and drive to stick to a process, behavior, job, or even a game to achieve a goal or desired end result. For example, if a child is an athlete, then they will need motivation to obtain their goals in sports. That motivation can be internal from themselves and external from parents and others.

Just as with sports, in academic settings you have the ability to positively affect your child’s motivation to succeed. You can do this through praise and reinforcing the behaviors you like the most. There are at least three great ways to motivate your students to succeed: praise, rewards, and encouragement.

Praise for Effort, Not Always Success

Children may lack the determination to push through the hard topics of classes. How can we ensure that they keep trying when things get hard? We can praise their efforts along with their successes. When we tell children and students, “You worked hard on that math topic—I’m proud of you,” it shows them that even if they encounter something hard, they have the ability to keep going. This builds motivation, the drive to move past something difficult and the knowledge that they can succeed.

The best thing is that the praising of a child works for any age! Young children can be motivated by descriptive praise as much as older children. Descriptive prose is when you tell your child exactly what it is you like. For instance, “I like that you did your homework without being asked.” We want to avoid generic praises that lack specific examples like, “good job.”

Having specific praise motivates your child to succeed and lets them know exactly what positive action they should continue to do. In classes at A Grade Ahead, there are small student-teacher ratios which means that the teachers are able to provide this type of support, praise, and reinforcement in the class topics.

When To Give Rewards

Rewards should be used in a way that promotes good behavior and motivates students to succeed. It can be something small, like a favorite piece of candy, playtime with you for the younger kids, or an extra privilege for the older kids. The best part is that rewards are as unique as each child! In my classroom here at A Grade Ahead, if the kids are exceptionally well-behaved and give a great, well-thought-out answer, I will give a “free pass” where they can pass a question. The drive to give details, the thoughtfulness of their responses increases because of such a small reward. 

Motivate Your Child to Succeed

We can use rewards, praise, and even encouragement to change the thoughts of others. It does take a while to alter the actions, but through continuous positive framing, the ability to alter the negative actions will change. For instance, if a child does not want to do their homework, encouraging them to try a problem—just one at first—and then compliment the hard work. This will show them they are capable. If they keep trying problems, give them a small reward and more praise for their actions. Soon, this will build within them the feeling that they can be self-sufficient and motivate them to succeed. 


Written by Michael Leonard

Edited by Nicole Acevedo

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