How To Motivate Underachieving Kids

Some kids struggle with school through no fault of their own – they simply don’t have the natural capability to learn at the same rate as other children. However, there are other bright kids who do have the capability and are predicted high grades, but instead choose to squander their potential by not wanting to learn or achieve. These kids are known as underachievers.

Being the parent of an underachieving child can be frustrating. You may feel your child is jeopardizing their future by not trying their best. Fortunately, it’s never too late to motivate your child to achieve – right now, they may not see the purpose of achieving or they may simply have a problem with the way they’re being taught. Here are just some motivation tactics to use as a parent for kids of all ages.

Get to know what your child likes and dislikes

Most parents think that because a child doesn’t want to achieve at school, they have no passions and aspirations whatsoever. The truth is that your kids are certain to be passionate about certain things even if they’re not school related (for example, video games or drawing or playing an instrument). You should take the time to get to know what your child likes and dislikes. If kids feel that their personal interests are appreciated, they’re more likely to feel valued as a person and may be more prompted to excel.

Start supporting your kids’ passions even if they’re not the passions that you personally feel are most valuable. For example, if a kid loves art but hates math, encourage them to pour all their energy into art and succeed in this area – don’t try to push them away from art and force them to become a mathematician. Once kids feel that they can excel in areas that are important to them, they may be more likely to try and excel at areas that are also important to you.  

Limit negative distractions

Whilst you should respect your kid’s interests, there are times when these interests may be distracting them rather than helping them. If homework or revision needs to be done, but your kid is more interested in watching TV or hanging out with friends, you may need to forcefully take away these distractions. This could include not allowing your kid to play outside with friends until their homework is done or taking away the TV from their room whilst they revise. Your kid can still do the things they want to do – but they need to understand that school work is something they should prioritize.

Implement chores and rewards

Chores and rewards can help to develop a work ethic and make your kids realize that in life they must work to then enjoy leisure time. This could involve giving out pocket money or simply allowing them to play video games or go out with friends in exchange for doing a chore. You can even set big rewards for big goals such as buying them a big gift such as a holiday or games console in exchange for getting certain grades in their exams. This could encourage kids to knuckle down at school, making them think more about the long-term positive consequences of working hard rather than living solely in the present.

Let your kids know that you care about them and their future

Make sure that you’re vocalizing the fact that you care about your kids and their future. Kids are more likely to want to make their parents proud if they feel that you deeply care about them and that you’re not just looking out for your own personal pride – your kid doesn’t want to be a trophy that you can show about to other parents. Sit down with your kid and have discussions about their interests. Try to listen to problems they may be having outside of education and make your kid feel valued as a person.

Stay calm

Ultimately, you want to be positively reinforcing your kids. If your raising your voice and getting angry at them for not achieving, your child may start to focus on the negative attention they’re getting – the fact that you think that they’re lazy and that you’re not proud of them – rather than focusing on the fact that you know they can succeed. Stay calm when talking with your kid about achieving better results – you can still attempt to reason with your kids without raising your voice.

Look into different learning styles

Everyone learns differently. Some people prefer visuals such as diagrams and charts in order to help them learn. Other people are better hands-on learners and prefer to learn things using games and interactive activities. Other people prefer to write notes down in order to get things into their brain.

There are online tests that can allow you to find the best learning method for your child. You could even consider looking into a differentiated curriculum for gifted students – these are school curriculums that focus on your kids individual interests and personal learning style in order to get the best out of them. This could be useful if you feel that average school methods aren’t helping your kids to truly reach their potential.

Recognize when you’re being too pushy

It’s important to emphasize the fact that you want your kids to excel, but you should be careful of being too pushy. Constantly pestering your children about the fact that they must succeed could start to grow suffocating and put too much pressure on their shoulders. Some kids may even get rebellious if they feel you’re pushing them too hard. Make sure that not every conversation with your kid is about achieving. Most underachieving kids need to be pushed at first, but it’s easy to go too far the other way after a few weeks and demotivate your kids through constant pressure.

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