How can I grow my child?

Written by Desiree Visser

Seeing your children tackle and overcome the tasks and challenges before them is very exciting for any parent. In many ways, school provides this opportunity for children to develop GRIT – the Guts, Resilience, Insistence, and Tenacity – they need to mature and become successful adults.

Children who are extrinsically motivated tend to derive satisfaction out of the reward of getting a job done. They are motivated by what comes after completing a task, such as receiving money, getting a present, being able to have screen-time as a result, or filling out a reward chart. Children who are externally motivated are also motivated to action in order to avoid punishment.

Children who are intrinsically motivated enjoy completing a job well. They are motivated by praise or by the internal satisfaction of persevering and producing a finished product of high quality. For example, children who engage intrinsic forms of motivation may complete math homework because of the challenge it presents; or they may play sport because it is fun.

Regardless of the level of skill, learning to motivate our children to not be half-hearted in their efforts is a very important step in helping them grow. The Lord provides a stern warning against those who are unwilling to do their best in the tasks set before them:
Proverbs 18:9 “A lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things”.

We do not want this for our children! Therefore we must teach our children that they are worthy of a job done well – doing your best preserves self-worth and builds self-esteem more than any 1st prize ever will.

As Christians, we are motivated to mature in our walk with the Lord. Hebrews 6: 1 -3 encourages us to not be satisfied with the elementary teachings about Christ, but to press on into maturity. The Lord provides both extrinsic motivation (in the form of heavenly rewards and Godly wisdom) and intrinsic motivation (Hebrews 12:1 “Let us run with perseverance the race marked before us.”) for believers. What an almighty God we serve!

Help your child find the words to identify their own motivation by following this example:

Imagine your child is not working hard on homework.  You could ask them to measure their motivation to do homework on a scale of 1 (Don’t ever want to!) – 10 (excited about homework). If your child answers with a 2, then ask “Why did you choose a 2 instead of a 1?” This encourages your child to name some motivations for completing their task. Then ask “What would it take to make it a 3?” This guides your child to consider what would increase his motivation.

Most importantly it is a journey parents must undertake with children, lovingly and firmly teaching them to engage in the difficult job of growing and stretching themselves into maturity.

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