What Kids Need: Achievement Motivation

“My child used to get such good grades; I don’t know what happened.  Since he arrived in high school, everything seems to be going downhill.”  As an experienced school administrator, I used to hear this often from parents.  They were frustrated because the young person used to achieve in school without much effort from them as parents, and now the reverse is true, they need that achievement motivation.  Kids have to feel motivated to learn and to do their best in school.  Without that motivation, they have no goals, no reason to get themselves ready for a career and their future.  So often school in elementary and middle school seems more straightforward, and then one day the child arrives at the high school, and everything is different.  Well, it is different!

So what to do about this!  If kids feel like school is a waste of time, then it is time to sit down with them and visit about their goals, the requirements for those goals, and to get in touch with people who are actually in the careers they are interested.  What re their friends’ attitude about school?  If the friends that they hang out with have poor grades, poor habits, and see no value in school, then eventually, sooner than later, they will also adopt those same attitudes.  I encourage parents to monitor their child’s friends closely right from the beginning.  It is much more comfortable to guide their friendships when they are younger, like in elementary school, then in high school.

Sit down with your child and help them set some goals for their life.  What are they good at doing?  Where are their talents?  All kids have abilities of some type; help them to identify them. My step-son is an example of someone who struggled in school.  For the life of me, I had trouble identifying what his talents contained.  He was smart, but beyond that, what would help him to make money in life?  I realized that it was his pleasant personality.  People genuinely liked him; he could sell anything to anyone.

There are three tips for teens to be successful in life, and I have written on all three of them in this series:  Educational Aspiration, School Performance, and Homework.  I challenge you to take time to read these and address each of them with your child.  You will be glad you did when they turn 18 and have a plan for their life.

Yours for Better Parenting,

Rich