One of the biggest frustrations parents often face is getting their kids motivated to learn. Whether it’s mastering multiplication, learning a new language, or sticking with the soccer team despite riding the bench most of the season, it can be difficult to get our kids to be enthusiastic about learning new skills. Especially when the going gets tough.
Our children’s reluctance to venture into unfamiliar territory is understandable. Learning new skills can be frustrating, and failure can be discouraging or, worse, embarrassing. Research has shown, however, that parents can help their children more readily embrace challenges and understand the value of persistence without relying on excessive external rewards.
Here are five strategies you can start using today to help your child become a motivated learner:
1. Learning as an opportunity
Over three decades of research has shown that there is a direct correlation between what a child thinks of her abilities and that child’s willingness to face challenges, according to Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University and a pioneer in the study of motivation in relation to achievement.
As Dweck’s extensive research with children has found, when children see their abilities as fixed and not subject to improvement, they worry that their intelligence will be questioned whenever they fail or exert too much effort to learn a skill. As a result of this “fixed mindset,” these children view challenges and mistakes as potential sources of “looking dumb,” and lose confidence and motivation when the work stops being easy.
However, children who believe that the harder they work at something, the better they’ll get at it see obstacles as opportunities to add to their skillset, not as potential blows to their self-confidence. Dweck refers to this mindset as the “growth mindset.”
Children with a growth mindset understand that effort is necessary to succeed.
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