One of our regulars wanted to discuss whether you can motivate kids to excel or whether they are born that way. Here is her question:
“How do you raise a child to excel when he/she seems to lack initiative or motivation? Are external rewards or incentives ever enough? Do some people suddenly get initiative or are we just born that way?”
I think some people are definitely born self-driven. I always turned my work in, never wanted to get bad grades, and rarely if ever got in trouble at school. I don’t remember my parents really doing anything to foster that. I definitely didn’t want to disappoint them but I’m not sure that was something that was instilled or was innate. My brother was not a great student until he decided he wanted to be. He found his calling to teach and then all of a sudden it was straight As. I don’t think any type of reward system would have created that result (and I believe they tried) until he was ready to do it for himself.
My kids know we want them to do their best each and every time. The only time they need to worry is if they didn’t do their very best. They both generally get straight As. If they bring home a B (or a bad handwriting grade for Walsh) then I want to know did you try your hardest. If so, the B is fine. If not, they had better work harder.
Do you think kids are born motivated or can you motivate them with rewards or punishments into excelling?