Article – Keeping your Child Motivated!

It can be challenging to stay motivated when supporting your anxious child, especially when you have your own setbacks in life.

Here are a few tips that might help:

  • Set specific, achievable goals. Don’t expect too much – small steps in the right direction – are more sustainable.  Your child many not feel a a sense of accomplishment when it’s been achieved – you should should see this is great progress.
  • Take breaks and engage in activities you both enjoy. It’s important to give you both time to relax and recharge.  Do activities together that achieve this.  Again, these don’t have to be big things – even sitting and watching your favourite TV show is ok.
  • Surround yourself and child with positive, supportive people. Having a strong support system can make a big difference in motivation.  You both can’t do this alone – you need to have a team of people who can keep you and your child motivated when things get tricky.
  • Find ways to stay engaged and interested in what you’re doing. This could involve trying new things or learning new skills – your child will push against this.  As they become addicted to the predicable future, even if it’s filled with anxiety.  So, let them know that any new activity will make them feel wobbly – but that’s ok, as it’s breaking the cycle.
  • Recognise and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. This can help boost their confidence and motivation.

1.  Setting Goals

Here are a few more tips on setting specific, achievable goals:

  1. Make sure your goals are clear and specific. Instead of saying “We are going start a new hobby,” try “We are going write a list of 5 things you enjoy doing and start 1 of them.”
  2. Set goals that are achievable, but still challenging. It’s important to help your child stretch themselves, but setting goals that are too difficult can be demotivating.  If your child struggles with this area – have a look at the Window of Tolerance, as we talk about this in more detail.
  3. Break larger goals down into smaller, more manageable steps. This can help them make progress and stay motivated as they work towards their larger goal.  For example, if the goal is to walk to the shops independently, then break it down into – walking to the end of the road and back … extend this to crossing the road and back … each day/week – slowly build up the steps.
  4. Track progress and celebrate achievements along the way. This can help them stay motivated and see how far they’ve come.
  5. Be flexible and adapt goals as needed. It’s okay if plans change or need to adjusting. The important thing is to stay focused and committed.  Change takes time … just think of how long it took to become anxious.  It wasn’t over night  – as breaking the habit of anxiety won’t be overnight either.  Don’t give up 🙂 

2.  Keeping Balance

Here are a few more tips on engaging in activities your child enjoys:

  1. Look at putting time into activities your child enjoys outside of school.  This could be hobbies, sports, or spending time with friends and family.  Balance is so important – especially if lots of energy is being used up on being engaged in social expectations and learning.
  2. Try something new and different.  Our brain loves patterns and predictability – as it’s safe.  However, to have flexibility in life and be able to take on new challenges – you need to start young.  So, look at how your child can take on a new challenge or learning a new skill.  This isn’t about the skill – or the outcome.  This is about breaking patterns of predictability.

3.  Support Systems

Here are a few more tips on surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people:

  1. When you are looking to help your child maintain their motivation, to step into the unknown.  It isn’t going to be easy – especially if they have been experiencing anxiety for a while.  So, you are going to need a team of people to help you.  Write down a list of those supportive friends that can help, or mentors who can offer your child encouragement and advice.
  2. Join a club or organisation. This can be a great way for your child to meet like-minded people and build a supportive networks, especially if they are outside of the school setting.
  3. Consider working with a coach. They can provide an objective perspective and help you develop strategies.   Learn more here.
  4. Spend time with people who uplift and inspire your child. Surrounding your child with positive energy – to help boost their motivation and well-being.  They don’t need to keep talking about the things they can’t do – they need to focus on what they can do!

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