Disha-The Resourceful Direction

We’re taught that we need to somehow control our kids, so we often jump in their box without a second thought. We think we’re supposed to motivate our children to want certain things in life, but that only causes them to function in reaction to you. Your child might comply to get you off his back or even to please you, but that doesn’t help him get self-motivated. Again, you definitely want to inspire and influence your child. The goal is the same: we want our kids to be motivated—it’s how we get there that makes the difference.

Ask yourself these questions:

• Does your worry compel you to nag, hover, push, cajole, or over-function for your child?

• Does your frustration cause you to yell, scream, beg, punish, and throw your hands up in despair?

• Does your helplessness cause you to start fighting with your spouse, who never seems to do as much as you think he or she should do to get your child motivated?

• Does your fear about your child’s underachieving cause you to keep trying to get him to change and to be more motivated?

If you find yourself doing any of the above, you’ve probably seen your child resist, comply to get you off his back, rebel, or dig in his heels harder. Let me be clear: Whether he fights you or goes along with what you want, the end result is that he will be no more motivated than he was before. You might eventually get him to do what you want, but your goal of helping him be selfmotivated is still a far away reality.

How do you inspire your kids to motivate themselves? (Here are a few tips to help you influence them towards self-motivation.)

1. Don’t let your anxiety push them to get motivated. You will only motivate them to resist you or to comply to calm you down because they want you to leave them alone. This won’t motivate them as much as teaching them how to appease or resist you. It then becomes about reacting to you instead of focusing on themselves and finding some internal motivation. Your anxiety and need for them to care will just create a power struggle between you and your child.

2. Be inspiring. The only way to motivate is to stop trying to motivate. Instead, work towards inspiring your child. How do you do that? Be an inspiring person. Ask yourself if your behaviors are inspiring or controlling. Understand that your kids will want to run the other way if you’re too controlling. Think about someone in your own life who is inspiring to you, and work towards that goal. Remember, the only thing you’ll motivate if you’re pushing your child is the motivation to resist you.

3. Let your child make his own choices—and face the consequences. Let your child make his own choices. When it’s a poor choice, hold him accountable by letting him face the consequences that come with it. If the consequence of not doing his homework is that the computer is taken away, put the need to get that computer time back in his hands. If he finishes his work, he gets the time on the computer you’ve agreed upon. That will be a motivation for him in the right direction without you telling him what to do, how to do it, and lecturing him on why he should care. As a parent, what you’re actually doing is asking yourself, “What will I put up with? What are my values and principles?” and you’re sticking to them.

4. Ask yourself these questions:

• What motivates my child?

• What does he really want?

• What questions can I ask that will help him discover and explore his interests?

• What are his goals and ambitions?

Step far enough away to see your child as a separate person. Then observe what you see. Talk to him to find the answers to the questions above. And then listen—not to what you want the answers to be, but to what your child is saying. Just listen to him. Respect his answers, even if you disagree.

5. Choose which door you want to enter. Imagine two doors. Door number one is for the parent who wants to get their kids motivated and do the right thing in life: Get up, go to school, get their work done, be successful. Door number two is for parents who want their kids to be self- motivated to do those things. They want to influence their child to work toward the things they’re interested in. To not only do the right thing but to want to do the right things. Which door would you enter? If it’s door number one, then the way to achieve that goal is push, punish, beg, nag, bribe, reward, and cajole. If you decide on door number two, then you’ll reach that goal by asking different kinds of questions. Rather than, “Did you get your homework done?” you might say, “Why did you decide to do your homework today and not yesterday? I noticed you chose not to do geometry yesterday, but you’re doing your history homework today. What’s the difference?” Be an investigator, exploring and uncovering, helping your child discover his own motivations and sticking points.

6. It’s not your fault. Remember, your child’s lack of motivation is not your fault, so don’t personalize it. When you do this, you may actually contribute to the underachieving by creating more resistance.

Look at it this way. If you look too closely in the mirror, you can’t really see yourself—it’s just a blur. But when you get farther away, you actually see yourself more clearly. Do the same thing with your child. Sometimes we’re just so close, so enmeshed, that we just can’t see them as separate from us. But if you can stand back far enough, you can actually start to see your child as his own person and start to find out what makes him tick—and then you’ll be able to help him understand himself as well. When you step back and observe, you’ll know what works for him, why he’s reaching for certain things and what really gets him moving. There will be things he’s never going to be motivated to do but is still required to them. He may hate doing his chores and try to get out of it, and that’s when you give him consequences.

The goal is to influence your child when he has to do something he doesn’t want to do, and get to know him well enough to figure out what his own desires might be. As a parent, you want to strengthen his skills in defining what’s important to him. You want to help your child define for himself who he is, what’s important to him and what he’s going to do to make those things happen. Our responsibility is to help our kids do that, not to do it for them. We need to stay out of their way enough so they can figure out who they are, what they think and where their own interests lie.

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A major goal of schooling is to prepare students for flexible adaptation to new problems and settings. Students’ abilities to transfer what they have learned to new situations provides an important index of adaptive, flexible learning; seeing how well they do this can help educators evaluate and improve their instruction. Many approaches to instruction look equivalent when the only measure of learning is memory for facts that were specifically presented. Instructional differences become more apparent when evaluated from the perspective of how well the learning transfers to new problems and settings. Transfer can be explored at a variety of levels, including transfer from one set of concepts to another, one school subject to another, one year of school to another, and across school and every day, nonschool activities.
People’s ability to transfer what they have learned depends upon a number of factors:

* People must achieve a threshold of initial learning that is sufficient to support transfer. This obvious point is often overlooked and can lead to erroneous conclusions about the effectiveness of various instructional approaches. It takes time to learn complex subject matter, and assessments of transfer must take into account the degree to which original learning with understanding was accomplished.

* Spending a lot of time (“time on task”) in and of itself is not sufficient to ensure effective learning. Practice and getting familiar with subject matter take time, but most important is how people use their time while learning. Concepts such as “deliberate practice” emphasize the importance of helping students monitor their learning so that they seek feedback and actively evaluate their strategies and current levels of understanding. Such activities are very different from simply reading and rereading a text.

* Learning with understanding is more likely to promote transfer than simply memorizing information from a text or a lecture. Many classroom activities stress the importance of memorization over learning with understanding. Many, as well, focus on facts and details rather than larger themes of causes and consequences of events. The shortfalls of these
approaches are not apparent if the only test of learning involves tests of memory, but when the transfer of learning is measured, the advantages of learning with understanding are likely to be revealed.

* Knowledge that is taught in a variety of contexts is more likely to support flexible transfer than knowledge that is taught in a single context. Information can become “context-bound” when taught with context-specific examples. When material is taught in multiple contexts, people are more likely to extract the relevant features of the concepts and develop a more flexible representation of knowledge that can be used more generally.

* Students develop flexible understanding of when, where, why, and how to use their knowledge to solve new problems if they learn how to extract underlying themes and principles from their learning exercises. Understanding how and when to put knowledge to use—known as conditions of applicability—is an important characteristic of expertise.
Learning in multiple contexts most likely affects this aspect of transfer.

* Transfer of learning is an active process. Learning and transfer should not be evaluated by “one-shot” tests of transfer. An alternative assessment approach is to consider how learning affects subsequent learning, such as increased speed of learning in a new domain. Often, evidence for positive transfer does not appear until people have had a chance to learn about the new domain—and then transfer occurs and is evident in the learner’s ability to grasp the new information more quickly.

*All learning involves transfer from previous experiences. Even initial learning involves transfer that is based on previous experiences and prior knowledge. Transfer is not simply something that may or may not appear after initial learning has occurred. For example, knowledge relevant to a particular task may not automatically be activated by learners and may not serve as a source of positive transfer for learning new information. Effective teachers attempt to support positive transfer by actively identifying the strengths that students bring to a learning situation and building on them, thereby building bridges between students’ knowledge and the learning objectives set out by the teacher.

*Sometimes the knowledge that people bring to a new situation impedes subsequent learning because it guides thinking in wrong directions.For example, young children’s knowledge of everyday counting-based arithmetic can make it difficult for them to deal with rational numbers (a larger number in the numerator of a fraction does not mean the same thing as a larger number in the denominator); assumptions based on everyday physical experiences can make it difficult for students to understand physics concepts (they think a rock falls faster than a leaf because everyday experiences include other variables, such as resistance, that are not present in the vacuum conditions that physicists study), and so forth. In these kinds of situations, teachers must help students change their original conceptions
rather than simply use the misconceptions as a basis for further understanding or leaving new material unconnected to current understanding.