Use every opportunity to provide empowering feedback and drive motivation in our children

Use every opportunity to provide empowering feedback and drive motivation in our children

Utilize 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. It’s outstanding and I wouldn’t change it for the world. In fact, in my years of working as a life coach for kids, it is one of the best I have seen. 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.

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. Sometimes I wonder where she gets the study inspiration.

You can imagine my surprise 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. In my parenting classes, I always encourage parents to keenly observe and follow their kid’s progress.

You can say, it is not a bad rating—and you’d be right. It is not a bad rating, but, it is far away from the work she has put into 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. This can easily make them to lose study inspiration. As a life coach for kids, they tell me this a lot.

I am upset because we give them 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. This is another point that I emphasize in parenting classes.

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 as a life coach for kids, I want my daughter to continue being enthusiastic, motivated and driven. I am also conscious the school has her best interest in heart, but this has the potential to send the wrong message.

Do I hide the grades? Do I make a fuzz with the school? Should I tell her, she hasn’t done well enough?

Here is what my experience working as a life coach for kids 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? It is important to know the expectations of the school. In parenting classes, I tell them how bad it is to make conclusions based on assumptions. Also, I will ask the school, 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?

Empowering feedback

In kids 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 observe this techniques builds tremendous motivation, study inspiration, and self esteem in children (and adults too)

The technique is  as follows; 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. However, if there are 2 things to improve (“better”) , find out 6 things she did well.

Re-define her goals

With the information from school and, probably your experience from parenting classes, 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 what she is doing and ensure she has or can get the support she needs.

One thing I know from experience as a life coach for kids is that achievable goals are fundamental in boosting motivation in children. Consequently, this can improve their study inspiration. If the expectation is too high, they won’t trust they can make it. However, too low goals will make them to lose motivation to put in their best.

Focus on the learning

While it is great to get praise from others, bear in mind that sometimes the recognition will come, at other times, it will not. In both cases, be equally proud of what you’d done, how you did it, and what you have learnt. Those learnings are the steps in the journey. They are what make us better and help us grow academically, professionally, and personally.
And do you know what, it feels good to have a plan.