Well, we’ve been talking about effort for the past two weeks in all of our classes at the Dojo. So, I’m sure by now you’re kids are fired up, motivated, and working hard like maniacs on every task they have throughout the day. Of course, you may know someone whose children still may be having a difficult time with the whole concept of hard work and effort. Seriously, how do you motivate your child to wipe that orange Cheetos dust off his face and get moving. For that person, and I’ll admit it, for me too, here are a few tips on how to motivate your kids to get up, get moving, and give 100% effort in all they do.
This one seems pretty easy, no matter how old you are. Write down what you want to do, and you’ve set a goal for yourself. Done. Well, almost. Whenever you set a goal, the best way to ensure that you’ll actually work toward it is to set it and then share it. Post it on the fridge and then tell your family. For your children, a chore board/chart might be the way to go. When I was preparing for my black belt test, I took a dry erase marker and wrote my goals and progress on my bathroom mirror. If the numbers didn’t change, my husband was always there to hold me accountable. It was much easier to reach my push up and sit up goals knowing that he was pushing me to work harder.
So let’s say you’re going to use a chore chart for the kids. Start with a few chores around the house, and then add more to their list as they grow more confident. Find tasks that are age appropriate for them, but keep in mind that they may be able to do more than you might find on an ‘age appropriate chores list‘ list. As our instructor Mr. Jeff says, a good way to motivate kids to work harder is to challenge them.
Ownership is Key
While we’re on the subject of chores, keep in mind that it may take your kids two or three times longer to vacuum than it would take you. Sometimes, you may even have to go behind them after they ‘finish’ a chore to make sure it actually is finished. For me, the value isn’t that I have a cleaner house. The value is that my children have worked hard to complete a task and can take pride in their effort and a job well done. Mr. Jared, one of our instructors, believes that one of the best ways to instill a good work ethic in children is to empower them. Let them own that chore.
Establish a routine
One of the first things that I found out as a new mother was the babies LOVE routine. If my child were thrown off his routine even a little, I was in for a whirlwind of a day. When the routine was in place, he was happy, and the day was almost always glorious. The funny thing about routines is that they affect almost all of us that way. If our routine is disrupted at all, it can throw off everything not only for that day, but even for one or two days going forward. Help your kids establish a routine, and you will prepare them to put in the effort they need for school, chores, or other activities.
Here’s a typical morning in our house:
Boys get up between 6:30 and 6:45.
Get dressed for school
Pack their lunches (they make their own) and school snack
Review any notes for quizzes/tests
Double-check their school bags
Feed the dog/let him out
Celebrate the Win
Once my boys finish their morning routine, we let them have free time. Sometimes, they’ll watch a show or play a quick video game. Yes, I know, I’m in the running for Mom of the Year. We’ll discuss that one later. Anyway, sometimes they may go outside and ride their bikes. Regardless of the activity, once they complete their task, we do something fun for them. Mr. Josh, our fearless leader, loves to talk about how we ‘Celebrate the Win’ at the end of every season. Whenever our students earn a new belt, we know they have put forth an incredible effort to achieve that goal. We love to spotlight that accomplishment. However, you choose to recognize or reward the completion of a task, make sure that there is a celebration, even if it’s just a giant hug and a thank you.
Make it Fun
Okay, I’ll admit it, this one is not always so easy. I know that I love my job, so for me, even though I work extremely hard, it never feels like work. Laundry, however, is a completely different animal altogether. I hate the folding and putting away of clothes. But, I know it has to be done. Kids will have those types of tasks as well. With some things, you can make it a game. For laundry, see who can sort your clothes the fastest. If it’s cleaning windows, who can get rid of streaks first. With dishes, who can load or unload the dishwasher the quietest. At other times, there simply are no games or fun to be had. (I still haven’t actually run into anything I can’t make into a game, but stick with me.) When you can’t make hard work fun, pull out this all-time favorite, again from Mr. Josh. ‘Do what you HAVE to do now, so you can do what you WANT to do later.
There are a number of other ways to motivate your children to work hard, but these were some of my favorites. A great work ethic is something that once developed, never really goes away. If you teach your kids to work hard and give 100% effort in everything they do, they will see opportunities everywhere. Don’t forget, though, that there is a time for everything. Take time to relax, too. Look around, slow down on occasion, know when to play hard, and know when to work hard.