How Do You Motivate An Academically Unmotivated Child?



It is absolutely normal for young minds to get easily distracted. As your kids start out their early days in school, this sudden change of surroundings may confuse them further. Moreover, a rigid routine that comes with classrooms and study times can be cumbersome for your little ones. So, it is no surprise that they feel dissuaded sometimes.


As a parent, then, you may be wondering how do you motivate an academically unmotivated child. A crucial thing to keep in mind is they need your constant support and not criticism. Dwelling on past failures is not going to be helpful for anyone. Instead, be the friend, philosopher and guide in their moments of need. Encourage them to move ahead, and ensure they realise that they are loved no matter their academic standings. Safeguarding their delicate psychosis is of utmost importance.


Why Do Kids Feel Academically Unmotivated?

Kids often feel demotivated because they lack a sense of connection with the subjects they have to study. As your youngsters grow up, they must acquire several social skills which are directly and tangentially related to their education. Thus, not being able to adapt problem-solving skills can also play into this scenario.


On that note, young minds often cannot comprehend the notions of institutional demands. So, when they are in school, they struggle with understanding what is required from them in a classroom or an exam hall. Moreover, keep in mind that this tender age is a development period for your young ones. As they mature with time, they’ll be able to find a niche in things they are motivated about.


Remember that every individual is different and perceives the exterior world in unique ways. Kids who are more inclined to out-of-the-box thought processes can also feel bored in traditional classroom settings. On the other hand, high-achievers want to feel challenged; and mundaneness fails to stimulate their latent intelligence.


Contrary to popular beliefs, children can actually form strong opinions. As they lack ways to express their views, disobedience becomes their form of resistance. So, if your child is struggling in the classroom, that may be a reaction to some bigger issue. As a parent, you need to ensure the general well-being of your little ones. So, make certain the home environment or school atmosphere is always nurturing for them.


Notably, remember that the mental health of your precious ones plays a significant role in their academic success. Putting on excessive pressure on them in and outside of the study hall can be detrimental for them on all fronts. Needless to say, their school and home environment must be empathetic towards their struggles.


A considerable number of individuals have learning disabilities that go unnoticed and undiagnosed. Or neurodivergent kids may not get the special attention they deserve with their education prospects. All of these can lead to them feeling unmotivated about academics. So, ensure that when they look for comfort, you are readily available.

How Should You Get Involved With Your Kids’ Studies?

Parents are the earliest role models for kids. Your attitude and way of carrying yourself can significantly impact their budding sense of self-realisation. Of course, you have a lot on your plate trying to maintain the tricky work-life balance. But make sure to take time out to sit with the little ones during their study time.


However, getting involved doesn’t mean that you should opt for a helicopter parenting approach, as that can be counterproductive. Instead, ensure that they come first in your conversations about school. Your children should feel heard during these communications, so make those as interactive as possible.


Parents being a part of their educational discourse allow kids to feel more familiarised with the hitherto uncharted territories. This can further reinforce in them a notion of commitment to their work. So sit down to assist them in their homework or revising the lessons provided in the class. Young children tend to show interest in what their parents are interested in. As you seem invested in their time at school, your kids feel this institution can also be a place of excitement.


Kindly remember that you shouldn’t be dictating to your kids what to do or not during these sessions. Micro-managerial approach by parents can rob kids of their sense of individuality and uniqueness. Even young minds can sense when there is a potential power struggle, and the urge to become resistant is overwhelming. So, when you try to be authoritative in telling them what is right and wrong, kids are inclined to go against your suggestions.


So, instead, be a partner in their journey of self-discovery. For example, if you are assisting them in school work, ensure they are the active agents of the decision-making process. This will teach them about being independent, but it can also stir up a motivating spirit in your children. Moreover, if there are any conflicts, try to solve those via thoughtful conversations and negotiations.


Should You Use Rewards To Academically Motivate Your Children?

Studies have shown that positive reinforcements have the ability to improve the attitude of your young ones significantly. As a powerful behaviour modification technique, this tool can come in handy when you are trying to motivate your kids to have higher educational aspirations.


To put it in simple terms, children feel motivated to continue doing works that end in positive consequences. So, more than pointing out their drawbacks, try to highlight and reward their good deeds. These rewards can be tangible, like a chocolate box or a toy. But, as they look up to you, your own response is equally valuable to them. So- show them your support by-

  • Offering verbal praise

  • Clapping for them or cheering them on

  • Giving them a hug, pat on the back or a good-old high-five!

Keep in mind that rewards should not be related to their success rate. Rather, it should feel like an acknowledgement of their efforts made in good faith. Allow them to make mistakes. Make them understand that setbacks are a part of life. So, verbal appreciation can become a constant staple of your daily routine. This way, your kids will grasp the notion of long-time positive consequences of putting in great work.


On that note, try to offer these reinforcements the moment they show interest in a task. Please do not wait till they complete it. This way, there is a reduced chance of them losing their initial excitement mid-way through. Instead, they will want to continue the endeavour.


Should you Talk To Your Kid’s Teachers?

There is no better way to move ahead in this route than making your children’s educators your allies. Routine parent-teacher meets, and a balanced student-teacher ratio helps your kids get specific attention in the classroom. So their teachers are keenly aware of the imminent struggles your little ones are facing in the classroom.


Apart from their parents, it is their teachers under whose supervision kids spend most of their time. So you as a guardian, have the responsibility of being in close contact with them. This way, you and the teachers can swap strategies on how to encourage the little ones to be diligent about their studies.


A collective work process like this has the potential to be incredibly fruitful. As a parent, you have greater insights into your children as a person. So, you know all the intricacies that come with handling them, all the idiosyncrasies that can trigger a mood swing. These are the kind of information not readily available to the school authorities. With your input, teachers can have a better understanding of your child.


On the other hand, your kids’ teachers are trained individuals who have a more professional grasp on how to deal with these issues. In addition, some of them maybe are well-versed in child psychology. So, they will be excellent in advising you on why your kid is behaving in specific ways and what it the due course to follow.


Some specialists also suggest developing a daily report card system that incorporates the aforementioned reinforcement method. While working in tandem with a teacher, you can get a sheet of points given to your ward back at school for all the excellent work done. Based on that, you can offer your kid special treatment like visiting the ice cream shop down the road.


Is Visiting A Professional Important To Motivate Your Kid?

As this blog briefly touched on before, kids may be struggling with undiagnosed issues that hinder their growth in the academic field. Moreover, it is always an effective alternative to reach out to child specialists and mental health consultants to ensure the well-being of you and your kid.


With the evolving nature of time, societal taboos regarding opting for psychologists have decreased significantly. So, do not hesitate to make routine appointments to ensure that your kids are in safe hands, even when they are out of your supervision.


There can be a number of learning difficulties caused by dyslexia, anxiety or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD]. When you are working with an expert, the consultant will be able to provide an in-depth analysis of how these latent issues can be dealt with. Needless to say, being in the neuroatypical spectrum is as natural as anything else. All you need to do is ensure that their special needs are catered to.


Importantly, be aware that from school-goers to teenagers, your kids are susceptible to depression even at such a young age. A visible lack of energy and motivation can be a warning sign of that distress. So, it is always a good decision to visit a therapist if needed. Proper Cognitive Behavioural Therapy [CBT] can help these struggling youngsters immensely.


How Else Do You Motivate An Academically Unmotivated Child?

Children are just learning to take in the vastness of the world that exists outside of their home spaces. So, these stimuli can easily override their sensory inputs. Therefore, try to introduce them to these unknown concepts through things they can comprehend. For example, tell them stories about the historical events they read. Or try to use word games, puzzles, picture books etc., to help the young ones understand grammar or mathematics better.


Speaking of props, you can also consult with your kid’s educators about whether they are inclined to use Teaching/Learning Materials [TLM]. The traditional chalk-and-talk method has become outdated in recent times. Instead, using state-of-the-art technologies for smart classes has become the new norm.


So, teachers can integrate the usage of posters, charts, maps, diagrams, etc., in their lecture sessions. In addition, as children are more likely to respond to audio-visual elements, they tend to feel motivated to be a part of the conversations in the class.


Moreover, you should feel free to utilise other methods to motivate an academically unmotivated child. No one else knows your kids better, so you are the best judge in deciding the modes of encouraging them. Just remember that arguments, altercations or comparing with others cannot be a successful way forward. They are in a vulnerable stage of their lives, so be present to offer the comfort and guidance they deserve.


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