9 Factors That Affect Your Child’s Motivation


In my post How To Influence Your Child’s Motivation For Learning I explained the cycle of motivation and how understanding some simple steps can help you help your child get motivated and stay motivated.

There are times when our homeschooled children get frustrated, discouraged, and lose interest in learning. When this happens it usually results in a power struggle between parent and child. A battle ensues resulting in either one or both of us giving up. The good news is that this battle doesn’t even have to happen! There is something you can do to save your child’s motivation before they get discouraged and want to quit.

There are 9 influential factors that determine whether your child’s educational exposure will lead them to happy learning or to frustrated boredom. These 9 things will either work for your child or against them, they are adjustable. And this is an area where you, as a parent, can have a huge influence.

1 Desire

Desire is the why. Why is your child trying to learn…(fill in the blank)? What gives them a greater desire to learn? Do they feel obligated? Is this something they have always wanted  Are they trying to meet someone else’s expectations?

Evaluate your child’s why. Motivation needs strong desire.

2 Attention

Attention is the ability to give mental focus. What time of day is your child’s brain more alert and active? When is it more sluggish? How long can they focus their attention before they start to lose concentration? Are they easily distracted by noise or movement? Is it hard for them to pay attention when they sit still?

Expose your child at the time of day when they have the ability to focus. Don’t push them too hard, 20-30 minutes is the normal time range for focused brain activity. Remember quality over quantity. Motivation needs focused attention.

3 Effort

Effort is action and work ethic. How much work is your child putting in? Are their efforts sparse and small or are they consistent and significant? Effort requires time and energy. It requires physical and/or mental exertion. What kind of effort is your child capable of giving? Are they working themselves too hard? Are they not giving enough? Motivation needs diligent effort.

4 Goal Setting

Goal setting tends to happen naturally with high levels of desire and effort. (Click here to read my post on How to Set Homeschool Goals)

  1. Set realistic goals. If your child’s goals are set too high disappointment will kill their desire. If their goals are set too low there won’t be any real growth or progress and it’s very likely they will end up bored.
  2. Write the goals down. Writing a goal down changes it from a whimsical dream to an expected reality. A written goal will serve as a constant reminder for needed effort. Set a realistic long term goal and then set smaller goals to help your child reach their long term goal.  

Goal Setting is the easiest factor to control because you can change or adjust a goal at any time. Motivation needs a worthy written goal.  

5 Confidence

Confidence is your child’s self awareness of their own abilities. Confidence comes from personal beliefs and experience. What your child believes about themself determines how confident they feel. If they are lacking in confidence than take a moment and analyze their beliefs.

Do they believe that they can learn anything they put their mind to, or that they can achieve anything they work hard for? Do they believe they are smart and capable? If not maybe they need to hear it from you. Have they had any opportunities to develop their confidence through successful experiences? Motivation needs real confidence.

6 Expectations

An expectation is a hope your child has, or a standard to be met. What hopes does your child have? What standard are they trying to live up to? Do their expectations come from an outside source, or do they come from within? Are your child’s expectations an end result of logical reasoning and fact?  Or are they based on personal goals and dreams?

Make sure your child’s expectations are realistic in the same way that their goal setting is. Are they acting based on someone else’s expectation of them? Realistic expectations will help your child to overcome the challenges that accompany growth. Motivation needs realistic expectations.

7 Attitude

Your child’s attitude is based on how they feel. If your child feels happy, understood, rested, supported, confident, etc., than they are more likely to have a productive attitude. If they feel sad, misunderstood, tired, alone, incapable, etc., than it will be more difficult for them to feel motivated.

This is an area where your parent/child relationship will be directly influential on your teacher/student relationship. If your child feels like you are on the same team and that you are working with them, for them, and not against them, then they will trust you and be more willing to follow your lead. Learn how to listen and validate your child. Help them keep a healthy schedule. Motivation needs a good attitude.

8 Application

Application is how your child translates what they are experiencing. Making application is a sign of comprehension. Find ways that your child can take what they are learning and make it real or see it happen in real life. Application answers the questions “why is this important?” and “when am I going to use this information?”. It shows your child what the possibilities are of what they are trying to learn. Motivation needs constant application.

9 Teachability

Teachability is your child’s self awareness of how much they still have to learn. Their teachability depends on their understanding that there is always something to learn. It also depends on their belief of what or who they can learn from. The more teachable your child is the more readily they will learn from day to day experiences and information. Motivation needs humble teachability.


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