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Children need to feel that their parents value learning. If you show your kids that academic exploration is worthwhile and education is important, they are likely to develop similar attitudes. Further, let your kids know that failure is often a part of the learning process, and let them fail without penalty. Kids who are not afraid to fail are more willing to accept scholastic challenges and less likely to sabotage their own academic efforts.
Students who possess intrinsic motivation take on activities because of the feelings of enjoyment and accomplishment they evoke. Students who possess extrinsic motivation perform to gain a reward or avoid a punishment. Students with extrinsic motivation will generally put out the minimal amount of effort to complete tasks in the easiest way possible. In addition, external motivation only exists as long as there is external compensation. In other words, extrinsic motivation is likely to result in limited progress that vanishes when the reward disappears. So be discerning when offering rewards for good work.
Realistically, you won't be able to take on every struggle that comes along, so choose your battles wisely. Make a clear-cut list of unacceptable behaviors and resulting consequences. For instance, a failing grade in a class might result in the loss of a favorite privilege until the grade is raised. Resist the temptation to ground your child indefinitely or to take away all prized possessions. If you act reasonably and calmly, there is hope that your child will follow suit.
Find an area in which your child excels and focus on it. Constant failure is certainly unmotivating, and when the primary focus is on weakness, self-esteem and motivation will undoubtedly be lowered. If your child can find success in a nonacademic setting, you can work together to determine the elements of that accomplishment. Perhaps you and your child will be able to formulate a recipe for success and apply the ingredients to the educational setting. In conclusion, unmotivated students do want to succeed, but they are being held back by some sort of obstacle. With patience, understanding, and hard work, you can help your child find a path to academic achievement.
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