Is your child completely uninterested in school? Refusing to even consider going to college? Are you at your wit's end? How can you motivate the unmotivated student? Of course, as a parent, you recognize the value and importance of higher education to your child's future. Academic apathy can be a complicated issue, however, and generally no amount of lecturing, pleading, or threatening will change a child's point of view. First and foremost, then, you need to understand the causes behind this lack of motivation. Once you have a better idea of the source of the problem, you can more effectively develop a strategy to help combat your child's seeming indifference toward education.
Kids who have a poor self-image avoid activities that they deem beyond their capabilities. Even if they can actually complete a given task, these students engage in self-defeating behavior to protect the little self-worth they do possess. For them, it is better to withhold effort or to procrastinate rather than risk trying, failing, and feeling even worse about themselves.
The home environment shapes the initial attitudes that children hold toward learning. In a home where curiosity, questions, and exploration are encouraged, children are given the message that education is worthwhile and personally satisfying. These kids are more likely to take the risks that are inherent in academically challenging pursuits. On the other hand, in a home where learning is not encouraged, children are given the message that education is of little value and that they lack the competency and ability to learn.
Students mirror their teachers' attitudes. If teachers believe that their students can learn, their students are more likely to trust in themselves and their abilities. Such teachers assign challenging, meaningful, and achievable tasks that promote motivation and link effort and success. Conversely, if teachers take the stance that they are the source of all knowledge and that their students are incompetent, their students are more apt to tune out, stop trying, and fail.
Many unmotivated students are simply responding negatively to pressure. Whether the tension is perceived or real, these kids rely on defense mechanisms to protect them from the discomfort pressure generates. Through procrastination or avoidance, these students are trying to escape from their fears of failure and inadequacy. In time, they come to accept the consequences of their behavior, so they appear nonchalant and composed, even as the pressure they are trying to dodge mounts.
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