The psychologist Svetlana Roiz brought all the reasons for lack of motivation into focus. That is most often not the point of children.
I am often turned to with such a request as: «I want the psychologist to work with a schoolchild. No motivation to study at all». But the psychologist can not wave a magic psychological wand or a magic motivating belt and make a «learning dear» of a child. The psychologist can not convince a child that the uninteresting is supposedly interesting. Or that the frightful is not frightful.
Good news: the psychologist can look closely and not very closely at the whole family and ask awkward and wacky questions. And this will help to understand, why the motivation is not formed. Or this will explain where it went to. Both questions and answers to them can cause surprise, resistance, anger, distrust and awareness of the parents. And if this awareness comes, it is therapeutic by itself.
The psychologist, for example, can ask with indubitable provocation: does your child see that you are studying by yourselves? How long will you do yourselves what you deem meaningless, without getting internal compensation and without seeing the effective result? Being at gunpoint of evaluations and without a free time? Are you highly motivated yourselves in doing uninteresting and donkey work? Is it easy for you to justify all the time someone’s expectations? Are you happy?
The parents argue: well, there is, but also «there are words «it is necessary». These words do not work with this generation. Today’s children often ask the question — Why? They focus on that, where they see a sense. If we can not show it, they are looking for something «meaningful» for themselves, and even more — that, associated with pleasure (often, it is a game).
The words «it’s necessary», «must» and «I will do» talk about the development of a part of brains that is responsible for impulse control. Exactly this part of brains of modern children is «switched on» later. And in adolescence life it sometimes falls out of the activity.
But these very parts of brains along with these very words are activated, when we have a schedule of the day and regular hours, when there is a planning, when a child has a permanent small significant responsibility, when there are «ritual» actions, i.e. family rituals, when in the family the questions and the search for answers are encouraged, when every day all the family learns something new and when there is a proper physical activity. And yet, it happens when the parents’ values coincide with their actions in the world. When there are no «double messages».
Let’s explore the following: what could be the motivations? Go to school, go to work?
— Games. Then it brings toys to school, or playing by its rules. At any time it can say «Stop playing» and get out of the learning process. But an adult also play the work. When it is not subordinated to schedule and deadlines, tries to do only what is interesting and avoids responsibility.
— Social motivation. A child goes to school to make friends. And it often does so to detriment of its studies. If the relationship does not develop, it can refuse to study. An adult is a bit like: it goes to work for contact satisfaction and sometimes it sits in social networks during its working hours.
— Motivation in achievements. A child goes to school for the highest marks. If it does not manage to be successful, the motivation decreases. An adult goes to work for the status, praise of a leader and salary.
— Training motivation. A child goes to school to study. Consciously. For knowledge. An adult goes to realize its potential.
If all kinds of the motivation are present in our life at the same time and are satisfied, this is a great happiness. The most mature motivation, of course, is training. It is often necessary to just mature to the training motivation (this is one of reasons not to send off a child to school before seven years).
And now let’s strictly speak about the reasons. Why doesn’t it want to study? A child may be:
Not in safety. When a child is scared, it stops perceiving new information. If a person is in a chronic stress or trauma, the long-term memory reduces. For many children with zinc deficiency it is really difficult to memorize verses and formulas. Because zinc affects the hippocampus: a part of the brain that stores the important information. There are still such fears:
— a child may be afraid of a particular teacher;
— a child missed the basics, the previous material and fears to prove its success-failure;
— a child may be afraid to make mistake: the school geared towards the search of mistakes rather than highlighting successes. Our task is to teach a child, that it is possible to make mistakes. And our task is also to notice successes and efforts made by a child.
— a child may fear particular classmates, who tease it;
— a child may be afraid to go to the lavatory at school. It is easier for it to sabotage the school, than to admit: “I’m tired”. Look at children being pale, hunched and having bruises under eyes. If you believe in vitamins, let them accept. If possible, let them sleep off and walk. The organic causes are dyslexia, ADHD, types of MBD syndrome (minimal brain dysfunction), so all that is deemed a «diagnosis». It is important for parents to understand, in which the peculiarity of a child’s behavior and perception appears, and to look for ways of correction. These children are so much that it can already be considered a variation of the norm. To get started, please watch the movie «Like stars on earth». A child resists:
— the school system with its rigid rules and authoritarianism;
— an authoritarian teacher, who has no great respect for itself;
— it revenges the school, because it does not have free time or time for itself. A child may also resist the parents: if the parents are focused on «external success»;
— It resists the pressure, injustice; it revenges for offences and the pain by affordable way for it;
-It resists the parents, whose self-esteem depends on the success of a child, and
— the parents, who ceased themselves to develop;
– It resists the parents’ perfectionism. Internal reasons:
It is disappointed in the fact that it can be «successful»;
It does not believe in itself;
It found a way to attract the attention by success-failure;
It does not see the point of what it makes;
It is a child of introvert type having difficulties in adaptation to a group;
Consequences of trauma;
This is the possible way of manifesting the jealousy to older-younger brother-sister.
The teacher’s calls in style of «Talk to your child, press it down and cry for responsibility» are useless.
The parent’s request to the psychologist: «Strengthen its motivation» is incorrect and will also lead to nothing. It is necessary to «say» and transform something, as a rule, in the whole family system. And it is regardless of the success in studies.
When the parents say, sincerely and for the love and care, that: “I am worried about what it will be”, I say: «Children will not be, they are already there». Unfortunately, they often feel themselves accepted and loved as well as significant, when they demonstrate success. They are so overwhelmed by our expectations, that they often do not know, what they themselves want.
Finally I will share the client’s story (upon the permission of the client). The parents are motivational speakers. They hold themselves motivational seminars sharpened on raising successful people. Their son, a 13-year-old guy – the feeling was that he was older than me — said: «In my family there are talks only about success, fame and leadership. The parents said me many times that they want to be proud of me. And I tried all the years to be such they can be proud of me. Until the 7th grade I was an excellent student. Then suddenly at night I thought: what would happen, if they do not have anything to be proud of. Will they cease to love me? Will they kick me out of the house? I can not live, justifying all the time someone’s expectations – those of parents, teachers, strangers, to whom my parents tell about me in their seminars. It turns out that I have no freedom. I want to understand, what I want…»
School is a part of life only. And our children will not be. They are already there. 🙂 Have good growing-ups!