Motivating the un-motivated

Bad Grades

What do you do when your child brings home a bad grade? As a parent, I feel like my wife and myself have run the gamut for things to do to try and get our kids to care more about school. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, we have good kids, but we also have kids who lack motivation.

It took awhile, but our kids are almost all now in the category of getting actual grades. Unlike when most of us were kids, children now are graded with descriptive words or letter combos that are not the letter grades we grew up with for the first few years of grade school.

And maybe it’s just tough for me to learn, but when my kid brings home a PS or SP or whatever they are substituting for actual grades these days, it just doesn’t carry the same weight.

So of course, having REAL letter grades is a step in the right direction, maybe.

That is until your kids bring home D’s and F’s, and then bring home multiple D’s and F’s. And I’m not talking about kids who just aren’t bright enough, after all, our oldest tests in the 97-98% range for his age. But when it comes to study habits, they might as well be a foreign language.

I realize that school bores some kids.
I realize that our school systems are quite antiquated.
I realize that there are plenty of people who can’t cut it in school and turn out great.

But with all this in mind, how do you motivate the unmotivated?

Rewards don’t work, taking stuff away isn’t working, yelling and screaming don’t work, talking quietly doesn’t work. So what will?

Forgive me for being less than helpful with this post, but I’m guessing that my wife and I aren’t alone when it comes to this frustration and I’m hoping our growing ChoreMonster parent community can provide some insight into what has worked for you.


1 thought on “Motivating the un-motivated”

  1. We faced this problem about two years ago when we transition my 6th grader at the time to cyber school. It quickly became a stand still between us and her. Not only did she lack motivation but also self discipline. She would sit and literally refuse to do work. We were forced to take a step back and re evaluate our approach and thinking on the matter. It became very clear to us that our child wasn’t one of those children that could say to herself okay if i do my work and get great grades i will be greatly rewarded with a education that will provide me opportunity and thats why i should work to the best of my ability. It was going to take more than lectures, grounding, success stories and little rewards. We pulled out the big guns. MONEY. Would you go to work for 40hours a week and not get a paycheck? NO? My kid wouldn’t either and thats what we were asking her to do. Whether i like it or not she considers it work and well its my job to make sure she succeeds and part of that is making sure she is motivated the way she needs to be. So she is paid according to her grades. Its been three years and i have a child that is consistently earning high honors. We found that this motivated her to apply herself, learn self discipline and develop good working habits. Of course she had that one semester that she only got 20 bucks because she decided not to apply herself. She learned really quick how far 20bucks does not go. So for us this works and we decided to implement it for our other two that are much younger. They have list of what they want to buy and now they work all semester as hard as they can to earn enough of money to buy their items. The trick is to get them motivated long enough that the study skills and work ethic become a habit. I cant say that they will always be motivated by money but for now it works. Also i wanted to mention that as she got older we raised the amounts she can earn. My youngest can only earn a max of 30 bucks for the whole semester so if your funds are limited and you have several kiddos you might still be able to pull it off after all you have 3-4 months to save up the amount they “might” earn. Hope this helps.

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