Sometimes, through the daily task of parenting, you hardly notice these things forming. We are all human, we all make mistakes, and we're all easily influenced by our surroundings. So we may be going through our days and weeks just fine, when it seems like suddenly, one of the kids has started to drive us crazy with their refusal to listen or a lack of desire to help out. These things usually feel like they're coming out of no where, but really - they can have roots in the habits of our daily life - there in our word choices and responses to each other.
Recently, I noticed a change in Luke when he started taking Tae Kwon Do. I never realized how much character development the program focuses on, and it took a while - but he started to bring some of the lessons home with him. Yet, there were times when we just couldn't get him to cooperate. Every sheet of homework, every simple chore, every step of every bedtime routine would be met with whining, feet dragging, and negotiations. That stuff gets old - fast!
Right around the same time, I had the opportunity to read and review a parenting book based on getting your kids to be motivated to listen (divine intervention, or what?) I eagerly jumped at the chance to get advice on this subject!
To be honest, when I picked up this book, I didn't realize the lessons were rooted in religion. That's not a problem for me - in fact, I think we can learn a lot from our faith - but I was initially skeptical. I sometimes find books with biblical backgrounds to have a lot of "talking at" a reader with a certain authority, rather than kindly discussing a subject. I was pleasantly surprised to find a really great balance in this book - the references to faith and the bible were very complimentary to the psychological points of childhood development that were presented. I can be a harsh critic for these sort of things, and I was really happy with the level of religion within the explanations.
And simply put? This book is a wealth of information. Parenting gold!
The book started by religiously relating the psychology principles of internal vs external motivation, which really appealed to me. Psychology is my jam. Or, it was in college (and all of those years when I was convinced I knew the secrets of child development.....before I had kids. ha!) And this was a very "duh" point for me. I've often wondered how to get my kids to the next level of obedience - how do I make them do the right thing because they know it's right, and not just because they don't want to get in trouble? This is exactly what the authors are getting at.
Lukas made me a bookmark while I was reading this book.
It fits perfectly ;)
Whenever I try to convince my kids to behave with a reward in mind, I feel guilt. Like when Henry starts veering off the path in gym class I'll say, "Go pay attention or no treats after class!" I say it quietly enough so that the other parents don't hear, but not even necessarily out of shame - I know they bribe their kids on the daily, too. So where is that guilt originating from? Probably my conscience recognizing that bribery and reward systems aren't the way to turn my kids into honestly well-behaving people. Instead, bribery turns them into "What's in it for me?" people, which a) we are constantly battling with our oldest son and b) are not the kind of adults I want them to grow into. We're giving them the wrong sort of motivation for going through life without even realizing it.
I've really enjoyed reading this book, and I have gotten some GREAT ideas from it! I incorporated a personal goal discussion into our Sunday School lessons, and even made a chart of behavior expectations that is easy and clear for Luke to follow on his own. Handing him this tool puts the control over his behavior in his command, which is what we should have done all along! I'm so happy to have these lessons at my disposal for our little guys as they grow!
This book definitely earns a seat on my list of the best parenting books. It answers questions I've had for years, and I think getting our kids to be self-motivated is huge and helps us all!
The writers of Motivate Your Child have also created a collection of parenting materials, and my readers can get this $150 package for FREE when you order the book! There are some really great resources there - like a toolkit of appropriate consequences, and articles for dealing with a strong-willed child. These are great companions to the book!
To get your free materials:
1. Purchase the book from your favorite retailer (I know it's available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!)
2. Forward your purchase receipt email to firstname.lastname@example.org and change the subject line to
3. Biblical parenting will send you an email with a link and a special code to access the materials.
This offer ends on Monday, March 30, 2015, so act quickly!
Have you struggled with getting your kids self-motivated? I'd love to hear your story and ideas!
This post is sponsored by the National Center for Biblical Parenting. The authors of Motivate Your Child gave me a free copy of the book and parenting materials to review for this post. All opinions stated are my own, and I genuinely recommend this book to parents!