Dr. Rich Patterson

Part three. Parenting on Purpose: Motive

When working with a personal coach, I recently told her about something that I wanted to focus on next.  She said to me, “What is your motive?”  I thought for a moment and realized that my motive was not a good reason even to do what I thought I wanted to do.  It threw me for a loop, and since then, I have often asked myself if my motive aligns with my goals, personal standards, and character.  When I discover that I don’t have a good motive, it causes me to reframe my thinking.  What I am thinking about or wanting to do is not what I want for myself.

Kids often say I want to do this, or I want to buy that, or I wish I were good at ____.  We can help them check their intentions by asking them what their motive is?  Motive is the reason, the cause, or the purpose.  I like to think of it in terms of intention.  What is your intention?  If we can teach our kids to stop themselves from the willy-nilly thoughts that lack a focus and help them to evaluate what their intention is, after a time, they will not even speak the things that they are thinking.

By challenging ourselves to consider our motives, we learn to focus on productive thoughts, ensuring that what we say or think we want will produce something positive for ourselves.  Teaching kids to ask this simple question help them to understand that life is not about the whimsical, willy-nilly do or say what you want moments.  No, instead, it is about ensuring that our behavior and desires align with our goals and character.  Have some fun with your kids. The next time they tell you they want something or want to do something, say, “What’s your motive?”  It may get them to think.

Click here to read another post in this vital series, Parenting on Purpose, Parenting on Purpose: It’s in the People – Dr. Rich Patterson (

Parenting For Brain site has a post that is worth reading, click here, How To Motivate Kids When Rules & Consequences Don’t Work – 7 Science-Proven Steps (


Next week I will have parts four and five in this series on Parenting on Purpose.