if your child struggles at school every day and gets negative feedback for things they did or didn’t do, what would that do to their confidence and self-esteem? What would make you continue to push themselves to improve? Many kids with learning and attention issues have negative experiences in school and beyond because of what they do or don’t do. Think about the child with ADHD who keeps forgetting her homework and gets marked down for it. Or the child with dyscalculia who rarely finishes the math worksheet in class—or gets half the answers wrong. Those experiences can be frustrating and defeating. So what makes kids with learning and attention issues continue to push themselves to improve? The answer lies with being—and staying—motivated.
Usually there’s an incentive involved. Making the team or having people admire your project at the science fair feels good, which makes the hard work leading up to it worth it. The positive feedback provides motivation to do it again the next time.It can also lead kids to continue to try over the long haul. The incentive of having positive experiences and outcomes can keep them working despite hurdles. And the ability to do that is key for kids with learning and attention issues.
(Kids with healthy self-esteem are better equipped to deal with peer pressure and responsibility than kids who feel bad about themselves. Children with good self-esteem are also better able to deal with strong emotions, both good and bad, and to cope with challenges and frustrations when they arise. People often use the phrase “self-esteem” when they talk about raising kids). What gives kids the drive to do things? Often, it’s the prospect of succeeding—or at least improving so you can succeed. The more kids feel competent at a task, the more likely they are to enjoy the activity and want to get better at it. Success builds motivation, which leads to more success.But kids with learning and attention issues typically experience more setbacks than their peers. They face more challenges. And improvement and success may come more slowly or less frequently despite hard work. That can take a toll on motivation.
- Reconsider rewards
- Having meaningful conversations
- Embrace their imperfections
- Lead by example