Spring Cleaning: 3 Tips to Motivate your Child to Learn and Grow
It doesn’t feel quite like spring here in Vancouver, but I’m hopeful it’s coming. Though the temperatures don’t show it, spring -to me at least- is synonymous with spring cleaning, and with brighter days and cherry blossoms appearing, I have been clearing out clutter and creating fresh space in my home and out in the garden.
Spring cleaning around the home is common in many households. Being in a pleasant and clean space can calm you and put you in good spirits. Thinking with a fresh mindset can also create positive change. Have you ever considered doing some spring cleaning for the mind?
A change in YOUR mindset and behaviour will impact YOUR CHILD'S mindset. It plays a direct role with inspiring your child to set goals, work towards progress, and motivate themselves towards success. Consider these 3 tips to “spring clean” your mind to encourage your child to learn and grow.
Tip #1: We clean to brighten our environment. When we clean our space around us, we often find ourselves in brighter spirits. Work to also brighten your thinking to create a positive environment that nurtures and motivates your child.
When speaking with parents, I often hear about how their child is shy or how they are unmotivated to do anything. I hear them say that their child is not a good reader, or they are not strong writers. More often than not, what you say and what you believe have an effect on your child. Negative beliefs and statements pave the brain to think in negative thoughts. Think doubt and fail.
Disbelief is a negative power. When the mind doubts, it attracts “reasons” to support the disbelief. Doubt, disbelief, the subconscious will to fail, the not really wanting to succeed, is responsible for most failures.
When we think that someone is not motivated, or assume they can’t do something right, we automatically imprint that thought deeper into their minds. This in turn, makes it harder to “erase” that thought. To do anything, we, as parents, must first believe it can be done. Believing something can be done sets the mind in motion to find a way to do it. We gather motivation and forge ahead to find ways to improve and change. When we think this way, our child follows suit.
Motivation is not something you either have or don’t have. We aren’t born with motivation. It has to be created, strengthened, and maintained and every one of us has the capacity to own it, if we believe that we can. So tell your child that with the right habits, they can be motivated and be a great reader or writer or hockey player or cello player or whatever they are currently doing. Anything can be done and it begins with the mind.
Tip #2: Just like how we focus on the dirty areas that need cleaning, remember that it’s more effective to acknowledge and focus on the mistakes to bring improvement.
When cleaning, we put our focus on the dirty and cluttered areas. We don’t mop a floor that is already clean. We don’t clear the counter when it’s already clutter-free. When we clean, we put our energy on the areas that need cleaning. This is the same with learning. When we want our children to improve, we should encourage our children to focus on the mistakes, acknowledge them, and work toward improving on them. There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes. Mistakes create opportunities for learning and change.
I often see parents sugarcoat their child’s errors. “Oh, that was a great game. It was okay that your team lost 10-2. It’s just a game. We’ll get ‘em next time.” Again, this may seem optimistic, but it does nothing for your child’s motivation and work habits. Instead, acknowledge the loss and highlight some strengths, BUT replay what happened and focus on what changes can be made to improve for the next time.
If your child didn’t receive a great mark on a test, don’t get upset and complain about their lack of motivation. But also don’t shrug it off and say that’s it’s fine. Focus on what resulted in that score, and actively go back and find out what went wrong. Have your child revisit the questions. Read the teacher’s comments and if still unsure, encourage your child to go and ask the teacher about how to improve. Use the mistakes as the springboard to bounce back and improve for next time.
Tip #3: Sponges are great for cleaning. You soak it up with soap and scrub away the grime and dirt! A sponge can also be a great analogy to remind you of how your child soaks up whatever thoughts and behaviours are given to them. Remember that your child is a sponge.
As David J. Schwartz, motivation writer and coach, says in his book The Magic of Thinking Big, “children quickly pick up the attitudes, habits, fears, and preferences of their parents. Whether it be food preferences, mannerism, religious and political view, or any other type of behavior, the child is a living reflection of how his parents or guardians think; for he learns through imitation.”
It’s easier to imitate an action than it is to initiate actions. Children, in particular, are sponges and soak in information from the environment. Parents can monopolize the situation by being the role model. Instead of telling your kids to read, make it a habit for you to take out a book and read. Telling your child to get off their screens when you are on your phone is ineffective. Make an effort to show your child that you are getting off your screen.
Actions speak louder than words. Instead of complaining to your child for not cleaning up, reinforce a positive habit of cleaning up. In my home, at the end of the evening, we do something called “the roundup”. My kids and I walk around the house to clear and put things away so our home is neat and tidy for the next day. It only takes about 5 minutes and we all do this together. It is an effective way to see everyone imitate each other, and our house stays clean.
Having the right mindset directly affects motivation and performance, whether it be in school, sports, or any other action that we make. I’ve seen my own attitudes and thinking change as I continually work towards having a growth mindset and not only does it affect how I teach, it also affects how I parent, and I truly believe that this refreshing cleanse has changed me for the better.
Spring is synonymous to fresh starts and new growth. This is the perfect time to spring clean your mind to help your child think more effectively to achieve success. Give it a try and do some cleaning!
Another great conversation to have with your child is the value of having a growth mindset. And what do we say to our children to encourage them? Learn 3 phrases that you can use right away to encourage your child to develop the growth mindset.