Children thrive from feeling in control of their own pleasure.
Because of the natural curiosity in children, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that they’re going to be motivated about certain matters. The difficulty is in channeling this motivation toward beneficial goals. Imagine your preschooler sitting at home while you’re in the kitchen, washing the dishes. His mind is going to be at work -- “What’s that?” "The table is shiny.” “Am I tall enough to reach the window?” Instead of allowing him to hurt himself by trying to climb onto the windowsill, catch his fascination with a book or have him illustrate what he sees around him on paper.
1Remind yourself that a child’s motivation can come from both inside and outside. If the little guy wants to draw something to impress you, he is extrinsically motivated. If he wants to draw the same thing -- a dragon or a crocodile -- because he likes drawing dragons or crocodiles, he’s intrinsically motivated. This happens when he is motivated by the process itself, and a lot of the time, according to the National Association of School Psychologists, this can be a more educational form of motivation. Why? Because kids enjoy it more, it’s more rewarding and they learn from it.
2Prioritize intrinsic motivation. This is effective, says NASP, because kids take part in their own learning, building on their own confidence and pleasing themselves. This is best achieved when you guide your little one in a way that gives him the space to make certain decisions by himself.
3Give your kid options. The importance of an atmosphere where your little critter feels in some way in control is unmatched… a lot of the time, according to a study carried out in 1984 by Chalip, Csikszentmihalyi, Kleiber and Larson, children who feel more in control are more likely to enjoy their activities more -- making them more motivated to stick with them. Give him the chance to pick out a book if you want to read to him before he goes to sleep. This way, he’ll feel better about listening to the story and will get the most out of it. Kids are naturally fascinated creatures, but allowing them a certain amount of freedom will help them get the most out of this quality.
4Limit the outside factors that will also play a part in motivating your preschooler. If you want him to stick with his swimming lessons, you don’t want it to be out of fear that you’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t. Ideally it should be because he likes swimming. Try not to pressure him -- try not to impose your opinion by saying things like, “You shouldn’t give up swimming” or “I’ll be so upset if we’re wasting this money for nothing.” Of course, letting him quit for nothing is never the way to go either. A lot of the time, a lack of perseverance -- that all youngsters are guilty of from time to time -- can cause your little monkey to miss out on a great deal as he develops and enters school. Instead, try meeting him halfway by saying, "If you stick with it a bit longer, I promise you can quit if you still don't like it." According to the Faculty of Physical Education & Recreation, if you want to reward your kid for doing something, you should make it a reward for how well he does in a certain activity, not as a way to convince him to take part.