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January 25, 2013

How to motivate your children to do better in their classes

NORMAN — Q: I’m sure I sound like a typical parent, but my son is really smart, yet he’s satisfied with making Cs. Is there a way to motivate him to do better?

— Sam, Noble

Dear Sam,

If we had the answer to this, we would be millionaires. Here are a few ideas that have worked with different kids — but, remember, all kids are motivated by something.

First, try to figure out what motivates your son. Some kids are motivated by praise that gives them self-confidence.

Money is also a great motivator for some. We both had sons who thrived on getting paid for their good grades.

Relief from certain chores could be a motivator for some kids, as well as more time with computer/friends/TV.

All kids have something that they look forward to. You need to figure out what it is with your son and pursue that as a “reward” for good grades. No one dislikes praise and encouragement.

Don’t wait for final grades at the end of the semester but continually monitor grades and administer praise weekly. This means having a conversation with your son and being aware of what is going on in his classes.

Negative reinforcement does absolutely no good in motivating students. Bite your tongue if you feel it necessary to degrade him for a poor grade during the week.

Instead, ask him if he realizes why he made the bad grade and give him the power to do something to fix it.

Although it’s hard for many parents to understand, kids really do want to please you, and they thrive on your approval and affection.

Q: My daughter recently left elementary school and moved to the next level. She had been with the same group of friends since kindergarten.

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