Why Some Children Lack Motivation (and How Parents Can Help)

By Dr. Raymond Huntington

If you’ve ever noticed your child seeming lethargic or unmotivated, you’re not alone. As children progress through school, sometimes they become fatigued, struggling to find the “why” behind certain subjects or assignments. At Huntington, we see many reasons students lose motivation, but here are a few of the most common:

  • Because they’re struggling. When a student has a hard time with a subject, it can be hard to keep up the work.
  • Because they don’t see the point. If a student doesn’t find a subject interesting or relevant, it’s easy to withdraw or decide that working on homework isn’t worthwhile.
  • Because they lack confidence. It happens often: a student starts to struggle, grades suffer, and the student declares, “I’ll never be good at this,” and gives up.

What can you do if you notice your child is struggling to motivate? Here are a few tips:

  • Encourage a routine. For many, sticking to a routine feels good and provides a sense of accomplishment. Make sure your child has a good routine and that you uphold it at home (especially if doing remote learning this year). It does make a difference in keeping the learning on task and giving the day good structure.
  • Let your child take charge. One of the most common mistakes well-intentioned parents make is doing too much for their children. If you’ve been guilty of motivating your child by stepping in too often, too much, stop now and let your child take the lead. School is your child’s responsibility—speak of it that way and make sure your actions follow suit. Be on hand for support, but don’t be the leader.
  • Talk about your child’s goals. We’re big proponents of goal setting at Huntington, and for good reason. Children who set short- and long-term goals tend to be more motivated, eager learners, and are more likely to try things because they want to, not because they have to. Setting goals gives your child something to work toward. So, talk with your child about the future…high school…college…this year. What does your child want to accomplish? Talk about how your child can get there.
  • Set a good example. Your child sees what you do and often emulates it. Give your words meaning by practicing what you preach. Take on a 30-book challenge (read 30 books before the end of 2021) in 2021 and invite your child to join you. Take that online class. Go for that promotion at work. Show your child that learning and growing are exciting and fun activities and you might find that the inspiration rubs off naturally.
  • Remind your child that not everything is fun. There will be many times that your child lacks motivation because something simply doesn’t sound enjoyable. That science homework holds no interest and your child just doesn’t want to do it. Rather than commiserate with your child that science is hard and boring, talk about its value and how your child has improved in the subject over time. Remind him or her that everything in life requires effort, and sometimes the best lessons come from situations that require effort and grit.

Last and definitely not least, help your child find success in school, as that’s a big factor in motivation. If your child is struggling, it’s understandably going to be that much more difficult to maintain motivation. When you notice your child lacking the drive to keep at it in school, call Huntington. We’ll get to the root of what might be causing your child to withdraw (or not try as hard as you know he or she can) and we’ll put a plan of action in place to get your child back on track. Call 1-800 CAN LEARN if your child needs a boost.