Motivating a Child

Updated on April 12, 2009
S.W. asks from Elkton, MD
10 answers

How do you motivate your child to make good choices?

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answers from Pittsburgh on

In our house we try to model good behavior, review rules and the reasons for them, discuss emotions and why we feel certain ways (we do this alot with characters in books). We also discuss the reasons for discipline and how timeouts, removal of priviledges, etc could have been avoided (I give hugs and tell my kids I love them after the have received a consequence to let them know even though I didn't like their behavior I still love them). We try hard to praise the kids for things they have done well or things they have put effort into. We have good days and we have bad days, but I know at least some of it is sinking in when I hear my son talk about things that happened at school, my daughter praise us for things we have done, and when a reminder to make a good decision prompts them to ask about what will happen if they choose "X" or "Y". Good luck to you.!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Allentown on

good morning S.,
great question .
good to see you are aware child rearing is a lifelong issue .
#1= children 'DO' learn what they live .. if you and Daddy are making 'good' choices ; so will your young [ in time ]
#2- at age 4 and a baby you m-u-s-t- start small to begin the teachings .
#3= show 4 yr a carrot and salad ... ask her which one ???? BOTH ANSWERS ARE "G_O_O_D"
#4- again do this with clothing ; mommy picks 2 lovely outfits [ without child watching you] ask 4 yr old ,' which one do YOU WANT TO wear ? BOTH ARE G_O_O_D_ choices ,
5= now ; you are in the real world: at the playground ...
your 4 yr wants to push ahead on a slide .... now ; you asap ..s-t-o-p your child and ask her,' why do you want to push ahead?' her answer will be an 'honest' one and a good answer for a 4 yr old .now; you show her the way if she said ,' i want to be a bully' or smile if she says ,' because i love the slide' and then explain turns !
#6= this mommy, will be on - going .. every year change to harder choices .
#7= as a parent in this techy age ... n-e-v-e-r- give up your controll . you make 'wii' rules, nick at night, cell phone, computer games ... you and daddy decide these rules t-o-d-a-y- ... then , no issue at hand ...expand techy use as they grow older and homework is completed .

good luck sounds like you have 2 stars ...



answers from Scranton on

if that was an easy answer to give... the world would be a better place, but it's not. you may get hundreds of advices on how to get your child to make good choices... and listen to all of them, because they may all have good points. there are people on either extreme, of forcing choices on them since they are little, in the thought that they will be ''programmed'' to choose best. other people try not to influence their choices at all, in the thought that you need to let a child make their own mistakes... and everything in between the two. dont take someone's advice on this particular topic just because they are closer to you... rather it is smarter to listen to eeeeveryone and see what you agree with most. but really, there are many ''right ways'' to do it, so be open minded :)

the biggest time i see parents messing up though... in either manner (too strict, too lenient) is when parents do not demand their children's respect. as long as you raise your child to be respectful though, the ways you can raise them well, are endless. (no matter what, you're the parent and should tell your child what to do... not your child tell you... otherwise you end up with spoiled inconciderate children) setting a good example should always be a given though.



answers from Allentown on

Well, you've put your finger on The Big Eternal Question! Parents have been asking this Q forever, and you'll deal with it until your child is a teen (or older). Realize that the part of the brain involved in decision-making doesn'e fully mature until about age 22--scary when you think that kids can drive at 16, join the military at 18, and drink at 21--but equipping them with the skills to make good decisions starts in childhood.

This link: ( is to an article that probably gives you more information than you need for a 4-yr. old (!), but it's pretty fascinating, and can be applied to your own decision-making as well.

Best of luck,



answers from Philadelphia on

LOTS of positive reinforcement for good choices! Sticker charts for a specific choice,like picking up toys (I would use only 1 sticker chart for 1 activity).
Consequence for not so good choices,but make sure there is a range.Time out for minor,taking away a toy for something bigger. At 4, your child is also old enough to listen to why the choice wasn't good,and that is very important too. Consistency is VERY important!
Most importantly, children model their behavior from the example set by their parents as well. Kids see way more than we think, so try to keep that in mind if you,like I do, sometimes REALLY want to curse out the idiot that cuts you off in traffic! :)



answers from Pittsburgh on

by creating good choices for yourself. Make all good behavior an example. Want to donate some food to the local food drive? Have him help go thru the cabinet and choose items to donate. Make him an important part of it. Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. Lead by example. This week, my 16 year old, has turned in well over another 150 hours volunteer time to school. Reaching out to others less fortunate helps to remind young minds, they have it alot better than some. Get involved with a local churh that suits your family. Not all churches are a fit. We are members of one church, but attend another church because of conflict with the pastor, but our daughter last year choose to join a church that was more her style. (more modern music, more teens) Any your child's questions, make them all important - it's never to early to have "talks" with your child. My daughter also took her vow of purity, which she asked us to go with her. Support your child in all he wants to do. List pros and cons on a posterboard if you need too. This will help them visualize good and bad choices.
Sorry don't mean to rattle on - i work for a non profit, and volunteer about 40 hours additional each week. My daughters both volunteer in different organiztions, both have health issues 29 year old is bi-polar - holds down 2 jobs, and volunteers at least one day a month at the food bank. 16 year old - severve asthmatic, leg injury (horse sat on her), and just getting ready to start her first job as church secretary. (Doean't like to deal with food) She'll be off to college in 2010 - time flies.



answers from Erie on

You don't. Motivation comes from within.

That said, what kind of choices are you askin gyour 4 yr old to make ? Children learn how to behave mostly by observing their parents. When you make a decision (not a ocmplex one), you can share your reasons .. . and you can help your child practice making decisions, by asking if he or she wants this or that to play with. If they want to go for a walk or play in the yard . . stuff like that. But at 4, I hope you aren't expecting them to make moral choices. They aren't equipped for that yet.

As your child gets older, you can discuss the decision. If we go for a walk, we can see new flowers coming up in people's yards. If we stay home, you can run around and play on the swings . . help him/her to think through the decisions, even if they are not big ones. As he/she gets older, concentrate on the process, and praise the process more than the result. We all make mistakes, we all make bad decisions, but we build self esteem by tackling these things and going thru the process. So praise the process, and discuss it with him/her.

As my kids grew up, I remember pushing one of them to play with a certain friend whom I thought was a nice kid and needed a friend. I got shrugged off a whole lot. It wasn't until a few years later that I discovered the reason my daughter didn't want to play with her -- she was joining the wrong crowd and was getting into drugs. So my kid made a good decision to steer clear, even though as a young teen, she didn't explain it at the time.

I have found that when I allow my kids freedom, they actually make very good decisions. (most of the time) It's not constant, but it'd interesting to observe and learn about who THEY are, as they mature. :-) Good luck !



answers from Philadelphia on

I don't think you have to worry too much. If he/she sees you making good choices and being positive they should do the same. Of course when they get older you can give them incentives....that always helps :-)



answers from Sharon on

Accentuate the positive. Not through meaningless, generalized compliments but true specific ones. The more you become negative with your children the more they feel negative and lash out with bad behavior.

I love "the power of positive parenting book". Make sure your kids get enough one on one time with you that is pleasant. Building a good relationship is a great motivator for good behavior. Make sure they don't have to ask for your attention by behaving badly.

Good luck!


answers from Allentown on

Hi S.,

Always give your child choices and let him/her experience the consequences. In this way, he/she will learn how to make appropriate choices.

Hope this helps. D.

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