Use every opportunity to give great empowering feedback to motivate your children
Before you go on reading, I want to make one thing clear: I love my daughter’s school. I think it’s outstanding and I would’t change it for the world. However her latest school report can seriously affect her motivation. How do I help her?
For the last 3 months my daughter has committed to the school, worked hard, done extra homework, got assigned to several special roles, participate in open days, been made player of the match in several occasions, volunteer to help the dinner ladies, etc etc.
Basically she has done everything under the sun to show her commitment and effort. She has put hours of great work in every task and subject and I know it because I have seen it.
You can then imagine my surprised when she got the most normal “positive approach” rate to her effort in all subjects, the same she has got ever since she joined the school.
You can say, it is not a bad rate, and you’d be right. It is not a bad rate but it is far away from the work she has put into it this term.
So, why am I so upset?
I am upset because without realising we box kids and leave them there. Because when they are placed in a set, most of them will stay in that set. I am upset because eventually the children learn that “good enough is good enough”. At the end of the day “I am in set C because only the clever kids are in set A”, so no need to work harder.
I am upset because we perpetuate a role that they take and never leave. We train them to accept what they have with very little change.
I am upset because we should be rewarding the effort not the outcome. Reward their drive, energy, enthusiasm, concentration, motivation, carefulness… whatever they are doing. The outcome is only a temporal thing, the effort is a learning for life.
And I am upset, first and foremost because despite some kids working really hard to push themselves, the lack of recognition demotivates them. I know it perfectly well because I was one of those kids who eventually gave up on himself. It took a lot to get myself back on track.
So what can I do now? I consider myself a responsible father and i want my daughter to continue being enthusiastic, motivated and driven. I am also conscious the school has her best interest in place, but this has the potential to send the wrong message.
Do I hide the grades? do I make a fuzz with the school? Do I tell her, she hasn’t done well enough?
Here is what my experience working with children tells me to do: Understand, empowering feedback, re-define her goals, focus on the learning
Seek clarification from the school on each of those ratings. What has driven them? what has she done well and what is expected of her? What is expected of a child to move up one step up in the ladder?
In coaching I use a very simple technique created by my friend Danny Maude: Best (3) – Better (1) – How. I will use this to give feedback to her. I find this techniques builds tremendous motivation and self esteem in children (and adults)
3 things she has done well and she is vey proud of. 1 things she can do more of or better next time. “How” can she do it better next time.
Keep the ratio 3:1. If there are 2 things to improve (“better”) , find out 6 things she has done well.
Re-define her goals
With the information from school, help her set some clear goals, ensure her teachers know about it and there is a clear agreement on expectations. Help her monitor consistency, from time to time talk about his she is doing and ensure she has or can get the support she needs.
Achievable goals are fundamental in boosting motivation in children.Too high and they won’t trust they can make it, too low and they’ll will not be motivated to work for them.
Focus on the learning
While it is great to get praise from others, sometimes the recognition will come, some times it will not. In both cases, be equally proud of what you’d done, how have you done it, and what you have learnt. Those learnings are the steps in the journey, what make us better and what help us grow academically, professionally and personally.
And do yo know what, it feels good to have a plan.