Artist. Baker. Professional Lego Builder. Super-Mom. Pet-Doctor. Whatever My Dad Does: kids are inspired and motivated to grow up into incredible people and do extraordinary things. Motivating kids is important, not only on National Motivation and Inspiration Day but every day! National Motivation and Inspiration Day started in 2002 as a day focused on motivation and inspiration, to help make dreams come true, no matter how old you are. The Morning Star Foundation is excited to celebrate this day on January 2 because it aims to help with motivating kids to become the best they can be!
The Morning Star Foundation funds children’s charities that provide disadvantaged kids with a safe place to call home, a family that loves them, a feeling of community, and opportunities to learn, build self-esteem and have fun. Our vision is to help every kid develop the self-confidence they need to succeed. One of the building blocks to building self-esteem is inspiring and motivating kids so they can become healthy, confident, and productive adults.
What is the True Source of Motivation?
Before unlocking the secrets to motivating kids, it is important to understand motivation itself. Motivation is the reason we set goals and put a plan in place to take action toward that goal. Motivation describes why a person may or may not do something (Cherry, 2020). This why can be complex, involving conscious intellectual activity such as thinking, reasoning, or remembering, or it can be related to moods, feelings, and attitudes. On the other hand, it could be all of the above.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of ‘motivation’ is explained as:
- the need to do something
- enthusiasm to do something
- willingness to do something
In short, motivation is the driving desire behind the actions we take. In children, motivation acts as the cornerstone to personal development and growth, which is why motivation is so vital to a child’s success.
Why Motivating Kids is So Important
Motivating kids is vital to the development of self-esteem. By helping children find success in a task or improving something, they get that feeling of being good at something. The more a child feels accomplished at something, the more likely they will enjoy it and strive to do better, and in turn, it helps them become more motivated.
One of the best ways to instill this is by fostering a growth mindset. This is the belief that they will get better with practice, which is much more motivating. Focusing on efforts instead of outcomes, recognizing and supporting feelings of success, and helping children explore outside of comfort zones to uncover new strengths and passions all contribute to creating a sense of motivation and can help kids keep trying things, even when they face challenges.
Motivating Kids: How to Light the Fire
A lot of adults make the mistake of using incentives to light the fire and motivate kids. The unfortunate consequence of using incentives is that they place the child’s interest in obtaining the incentive, not the process of reaching the desired outcome. Rather than using incentives, it is important to follow the child’s lead to identify areas where they are enthusiastic and willing to participate. Children are best motivated by things they are personally interested in. Take notice of what they pay attention to, and engage with them around their interests.
Motivating Kids is Easy with Playful Activities
Children are also motivated by things that provide pleasure and amusement. Find ways to elicit curiosity and help the child to evoke or draw out a strong desire to know or learn something new. This is especially effective when you pair playing, games, and outdoor activities with socialization. Real-life social interactions with adults and peers during play can help motivate children by generating a strong social influence. This oftentimes inspires and motivates kids to improve, no matter the activity.
Goal Setting is Important in Motivating Kids
Another important aspect of motivating kids is helping them to set achievable goals for themselves. If children are not challenged enough or are over-challenged, they will quickly lose their motivation and get off course. One great way to help them set achievable goals is to put them in the driver’s seat. Help them self-identify things they’d like to accomplish and come up with ways they want to go about achieving them. These are very valuable skills kids can use for the rest of their lives, so be sure to praise the motivational process while not placing too much emphasis on the outcome.
When properly motivated, kids have the drive to push through tasks. Even the more challenging ones! Training for a sports tryout, staying up late to study for a test, or practicing a musical instrument instead of watching TV are all great examples of a child who is motivated. Studies show that when a child feels a sense of being good at something, it plays a significant role in the child’s development and growth (Ostroff, 2012).
Effectively Motivating Kids Who Are Disadvantaged
Sadly, not all children have role models who are experienced with or even interested in motivating kids. Imagine yourself as a disadvantaged child who is told repeatedly that “You are not doing it right” or “You’re just not good enough”. Adults facing situations like this feel defeated, even though they have the tools in their toolbelt to deal with it more effectively. Children who are still in the process of developing their self-esteem are devastated by comments like these. Over time, the child may expect a bad outcome with anything they try. Feeling defeated, they give up or just avoid challenges altogether.
Instead, if a disadvantaged child can find the motivation to try again, they will be more willing to stick with a challenging project or task over the long run (Kelly, [sa]). Many disadvantaged children are facing trauma, abuse, and hardships in their home environment, so finding ways to help them work through their problems will get them back on track to finding their motivation.
Helping a disadvantaged kid to find their motivation can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. The first step is to treat them the same as everyone else. Remarkably, they are able to perform just as well as their advantaged counterparts and are capable of progressing right alongside them.
Secondly, make sure the disadvantaged child has access to and is aware of all the resources available to them, including free or reduced-price meals, coaching, and tutoring at school. Putting the child in touch with clinics or schools with caring counselors can help to address the relevant issues and set the child on the path to healing and motivation. Peer mentors and teachers can also be a part of the solution by helping disadvantaged kids develop the skills to handle difficult situations and make the best of a challenging situation.
Disadvantaged kids can also respond positively when they are grouped with their advantaged peers in homework clubs, break time sessions or one-on-one interactions. Participation in these activities helps to motivate the disadvantaged students and get them back on track.
Regardless of which tactic is employed to motivate a disadvantaged child, it is critical that they have at least one positive role model and a network of support to help them find their motivation and inspiration.
Motivating and Inspiring Disadvantaged Kids Every Day
The Morning Star Foundation is passionate about providing disadvantaged kids with the resources they need to find the motivation and inspiration they need for a lifetime. We strategically fund children’s charities that align with our Five Pillars of Caring to address many of the obstacles standing in their way. We aim to collaboratively innovate with community organizations that are identifying new and different ways of instilling inspiration and motivation for these kids on a daily basis. Here’s a sampling of what we’re doing to make a difference:
Teamwork and Coordinated Resources Is One Way We Help
Our wraparound programs are helpful for struggling children who need a coordinated plan they can buy into. In this scenario, community-based services, including counselors and social workers, literally “wrap around” the child, their family, school, and community to provide a coordinated effort to get them back on track. These services are individualized to the child’s goals and guide them through legal trouble, develop a safe and stable living situation, calms their emotional state, improves academic performance, and builds healthy relationships. With teamwork and coordinated resources, we help provide healing that disadvantaged kids need in order to find their motivation.
Engaging, Empowering, and Inspiring Struggling Kids with Education
Our education programs allow children to open up to new areas of growth so they can be more creative, develop new ideas, and meet the challenges they will face in life. What kids will achieve in their lives is only limited by how strongly they believe in themselves and the level of self-confidence and self-awareness they develop as a youth. Education fuels children’s self-confidence and instills belief in their own success. That’s why Morning Star Foundation invests in education through Title I schools, STEM and tutoring programs, ECEAP, and Head Start. We help motivate disadvantaged kids through educational programs that engage, empower, and inspire struggling kids to believe their future.
Motivating Kids with Curiosity, Wonder, and Creativity
There is something magical about creating art, playing music, and exploring outside. These activities take kids to another place and provide them opportunities to use their imagination and see a new world full of possibilities. Positive play environments, getting outdoors and learning to enjoy the arts allow the whole child to be spontaneous, exhibit their resilience, and find the enchantment to spin up their own dreams and play out their instinctive nature.
The Morning Star Foundation values these important components in the development of our community’s kids. We are helping motivate disadvantaged kids with programs that nurture curiosity, wonder, and creativity in kids through play, the arts, and outdoor immersion. The Morning Star Foundation helps fund various organizations and programs that help motivate and inspire disadvantaged kids, not only on Inspiration and Motivation Day but every day. We are very proud of the programs we support. Celebrate the motivation and inspiration our programs are providing for disadvantaged kids by donating today. Click the button below to visit our donations page and help motivate and inspire disadvantaged kids today!