Motivation is the engine of action , the one that moves all of us to act. According to a study by Marian Carrillo and collaborators, motivation, from the Latin motivus (related to movement), is that which moves or has the efficacy or virtue to move ; in this sense, it is the engine of human behavior.
In children and adolescents, motivation is very important, also in the academic field (academic motivation), because it is what drives them to want to learn and study.
But sometimes motivation fails, and it’s normal. Before talking about how to motivate our children in their studies through eight key phrases , let’s know what academic motivation is and what three elements make it up.
What is academic motivation?
We can define academic motivation as ” the student’s involvement in school and educational tasks “. When there is academic motivation, it is easier for the student to be interested in studying and learning new things.
With motivation, the student can activate the behaviors he needs to achieve a certain learning objective, something that will make it easier for him to progressively discover what interests him.
This type of motivation is made up of three components or elements, according to authors such as Pintrich and De Groot (1990), cited in a study by Kleiber Vargas and collaborators published in 2019 in the Innova Educación Magazine :
- The expectation component : that is, the student’s beliefs about his or her abilities when performing an activity.
- The value component : The task must be important or of interest to the student.
- The affect component : the student may feel certain emotions when facing the task.
But can this motivation be enhanced? Of course. Ideally, it is the child or adolescent himself, capable of self-motivation ; however, as parents, we can also give them a hand, through language. What can we say to our children to motivate them in their studies?
Eight phrases to motivate your children in studies
As we said, sometimes our children are unmotivated in their studies, and this can be for different reasons; either because they don’t know what to study, because they don’t like it at all, because they find it difficult to concentrate, their exams are not doing well, they are going through a difficult time… the causes can be multiple.
As parents , it will be essential to understand what is behind this demotivation , and what consequences it brings. And once we identify all this, we can take action and use some of these phrases, or similar ones, to accompany them.
1. I will always support you
This phrase indicates unconditionality ; “I will support you always, anyway, even if you were wrong, etc.” Children and adolescents need to know that we are there even if they have had a bad day, an exam has gone wrong or they do not find the motivation to study. It is about accompanying them also in those circumstances, when, probably, they need us most.
2. Surely next time it will be better
Sometimes exams, oral presentations, etc., do not turn out as our children expected, and it is normal for this to affect them. A phrase to encourage them can be this; “I’m sure next time will be better.”
It is about understanding what could have happened this time , in order to improve, but not get stuck there, but encourage our children to look forward, towards the next exam, delivery, etc., without getting overwhelmed.
3. Trust yourself
Self-confidence is essential. Even if things don’t go as expected, even if we have bad days… when we have confidence, we have faith that things can change.
And in studies, there is an important part that depends on ourselves (in this case, on our children). They must know that we believe in them; Let’s cultivate your confidence through phrases like this.
4. If you just can’t, I’m here to help
It is a way of saying “I can help you, you just have to say it”. Sometimes children, and especially teenagers, get overwhelmed by having to ask for help , or hide a bad grade for fear of “retaliation.” It is about freeing them from all these fears, and letting them know that they can trust us.
5. You are doing well!
A positive verbal reinforcement that is appreciated from time to time. We all like to hear positive comments about us, to remind us that, even if we don’t believe it ourselves, we are doing well. These are four words that cost nothing to say!
6. Find what you like, your passion
Not finding what they like can make many young people feel discouraged with studies. Therefore, we must encourage them to find their passion, but also let them know that if they don’t find it at the first, or second, third… nothing happens!
They will probably have to try different things until they find what they like, and that’s fine. In addition, you can also turn the phrase around and instead of saying it like that, approach it as a question: “what do you think motivates you?”, “what do you like?”, “what do you feel comfortable with?” , “what are you good at?”
7. The result is not everything
When it comes to motivating our children in their studies, it is important to pay attention and emphasize the important things; in the learning process itself, and not in the result. Logically, the notes, in a certain way, have their importance.
But more important than that is how they get to them. Let’s take pressure off our children when they study, let them realize that grades, after all, are a number; what matters is that they enjoy, learn and advance.
8. Enjoy the process
And finally, closely related to the previous sentence, is this: enjoy the process. Enjoy, as much as you can, the classes , the explanations, the group work. However, it is not about making them understand that they should enjoy yes or yes.
Sometimes there will be classes or subjects that they will not like. It is about them understanding that the path to those grades, exams, passed courses, etc., must be traveled consciously, and if you can enjoy it, the better.
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