9 answers

What Motivates Your Child?

I have two boys. My oldest child, 3.5, is what I consider "typical". He is motivated by the thought of a reward and willing to focus on what he needs to accomplish to get the reward (like clean up the toys and then we'll play something he likes). I can understand what makes him "tick" and can see him having self discipline to do well in school and life. My younger son, 2.5, is much more difficult for me to figure out. He doesn't respond to the enticement of doing what he doesn't want to do in order to obtain what he does want. Such suggestions often backfire making him dig in his heels to be sure NOT to do what is asked and will pretend to no longer "want" whatever it was that was being used as the motivation. He is a compassionate, passionate, intelligent and loving kid. Sometimes he can be convinced to do something if one of his animals or the food or whatever "talks" to him about how they want him to do something, but this doesn't always work. He understands the concept of timeout, but often can't restrain himself from doing whatever behavior is threatening to put him in timeout. I am feeling a little lost with him sometimes, like I just haven't figured out what makes him tick. I was hoping that perhaps someone might be able to tell me a little bit about their child, or point me to a book or something that might help me figure out how to guide my younger son in life more effectively.

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Featured Answers

There is a book called raising kids you want to keep that is about helping kids learn how to willingly obey. It has a lot of suggestions for motivational type things that might be helpful!

More Answers

I don't know if you can tell at this age or not but have you read anything about "defiant personality types"? I'm sure there are things on the internet you can look up that may give descriptions. There are also a number of books at the bookstores. I think one is called "You Can't Make Me". I don't know a ton about this as I am only somewhat familiar b/c of an old friend who had a child like this. We have lost touch. I know her pediatrician suggested that she look for a book with the term defiant on the cover. She said when she read it, it was as if it were describing her child. I believe her son was 5 or 6 at the time she got the book. I'm not sure how old he was when he started challenging them. I know that she learned that her son would never do things "because she said so". She had to learn more creative ways to motivate him. She also could not show anger or frustration when he did things wrong. It would only feed his defiance. Instead she would have to say things like, "it makes me sad that you are having trouble making good choices". For some reason, he felt bad about making her sad but not about making her angry. Good Luck

Most two year olds don't "listen," they in fact lack self control at this point. My son is 2 and what works now may not later. He loves to say "no thanks" and go right on doing what he was doing even with bribary. Most often I try choices with him because what 2 year old doesn't like to feel in control. Just remain consistent with discipline and use lots of positive renforcement.
Try not to compare the boys. They are unique in their own ways, have different personalities and styles of learning. I think you are doing the right things and he just needs more time. Good Luck!

Sounds like a 2.5 year old to me! :) I have one myself. Perhaps your first child was just more compliant and this one is just a bit more strong-willed. Also place in the family contributes a new dynamic. Being the second child is very different I imagine from being the first and only. Please don't label him "defiant personality" at this young age (or any age as far as I'm concerned)!! Labels have a way of coming true. If you expect a certain type of behavior from your kid (or adult or whoever) he will definitely rise or fall to your expectations. It would be a horrible shame to put that on your child at this young age.

I don't use time out (and don't plan to) and I also don't use rewards (or punishments) to illicit behavior from my child. There are other methods and different things work with different kids, even within families. You might check out Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen, may give you some ideas of differt way to interact. A book I am reading right now that may be helpful is "How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Faber and Mazlish. You may want to check it out. It is a quick read and their ideas make a lot of sense to me and are applicable from young kids to teens. I got it from the library. I know a lot of people who have found that one helpful.

Sounds like a power struggle. Have you tried giving him two options & he picks one. My son is also stubborn But if I let him make the choice ( of two things I am ok with) he feels in control & there is no power struggle. Having said that he can also just dig in his heals too.( fun while potty training). Good luck. I'll be looking to see what great ideas some other moms have.

Hi M.
I am not sure how this will help-but in hindsight-my sons are now 23 and almost 26. The older son was much more compatible with my personality. I "Understood" him much easier than the younger one. Well-fast forward 20+ years-now the older one and I are struggling and the younger one I are closer than ever. They were and are very different personalities. I considered my older son to be the TYPICAL child just like you. Well-he is-but the younger one is an amazing humanitarian-intellect and overall wonderful human being. (Not that the older one isn't a good person-just different.) I don't know how this helps now-but to see that down the road-there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Just love them both-and try to nourish each of their personalities.
Good luck
J. H

Here are some books that may help you...

**Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child
**Understanding Your Child's Personality
**Nurture the Nature: Understanding and Supporting Your Child's Unique Core Personality

...seems like if you can find a book about child disposition types and how to parent them effectively you would be onto what you are asking for. Maybe a trip to barnes and noble?

I'm sure you will figure it out!

Good luck

Raising kids is very difficult!! I have a girl who sounds a bit like your 2 yr.old. I wanted to share a book with you that has helped me immensely. I just bought a used edition off of Amazon for about $3.00. It's called " Without Spanking or Spoiling" by Elizabeth Crary. It tells you how to talk to your kid in every situation. It helps to PREVENT the unwanted behavior to begin with vs. how to deal with it after it has already happened. I found it at our local library. Good luck!!

There is a book called raising kids you want to keep that is about helping kids learn how to willingly obey. It has a lot of suggestions for motivational type things that might be helpful!

Hi M. - except for the fact that you have boys and I have girls, I could have written your request myself a few years ago. My oldest - now almost 10 - is a carbon copy of my personality. I know what makes her tick. My youngest - now 7 - is my mystery child. I know you love them both equally and aren't worried about their differences - but you just don't know how to read the psyche of the youngest I'm guessing. And my youngest - like yours - is as THE most stubborn child ever. And I don't mean it necessarily in a bad way - I just mean she can hold out FOREVER on something - even if it means she won't get something she wants. I first noticed it even as an infant. She REFUSED to drink from a bottle. REFUSED. You weren't going to be able to make her - even at 2 months old. So I know it's engrained in her personality - not that she's trying to be defiant. It can turn out to be a good thing. She will work away at a project long after her sister has up and quit. For example, lately they wanted to learn to knit - a frustrating hobby to learn. My youngest is doing great - my oldest quit a long time ago. I wish I could say I've come up with some wonderful solutions for dealing with her, but that's not true. What I have found, and this may be small comfort to you now, is that as she grew older and could talk about her feelings more, I could start to read her a little more. And when she was being "defiant" (not true, but for lack of a better word), there was really some kind of anxiety brewing that she needed to discuss before she would feel comfortable doing the thing I wanted her to do. Further, when she was little - like yours is now - if I was trying to do the reward motivation thing - it really only worked if she could get a concrete image of it. She'd have to actually see the real thing - or I'd have to draw a reward chart with a picture of the thing (drawn by hand was fine) on the chart. Somehow a reward chart in-and-of-itself, without a picture of the reward, was not motivating enough - even when she absolutely knew without a doubt what the reward was. If you find any good books, I'd be curious to know. Sometimes I think she's not such a mystery - it's just that we don't have the same personalities - and I was spoiled by my first child being a carbon copy of me. But I love her to pieces and wouldn't trade her for the world, I just can't always understand her. Good luck!

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