Discover Effective Motivation Techniques for Students: Five Don'ts and One Sure Fire Solution

As a classroom teacher for more than 30 years, I can tell you that identifying motivation techniques for students is crucial as the laziness factor in our schools is increasing at an alarming rate. I once implemented a requirement for students to show their homework assignments before they could take a seat in my classroom. As the years ticked by, I noticed I needed fewer and fewer desks even though the school district was sending more and more students into my classroom.

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I don’t think I need to digress as to the reasons for this change in attitude regarding homework. The reasons are many. I simply wish to discuss motivation techniques that parents can use that will only succeed in making the problem worse and the one solution that I know will yield results. (I do wish to recognize that in rare cases there might be a physiological reason that needs medical attention.)

Here are the five don'ts when it comes to student motivation techniques:

Motivation Technique Don’t #1. Nag- This is the best way to irritate everyone including your husband or wife. It is like dripping water. After a while everyone will want to get as far away from you as possible.

Motivation Technique Don’t #2. Threaten and not follow through- This is a great way to get people to ignore just about everything you have to say. You might as well buy ear plugs and hand them out like candy.

Motivation Technique Don’t #3. Take away privileges and toys- With the exception of TV, most kids got along without that Game Boy or iPod in the past, so it won’t be too hard for them to get along without the privilege or toy until you are out of the house or you forget. As for taking away TV, while this would be great for the whole family, the whole family might revolt if they don’t have their daily fix of inane sitcoms.

Motivation Technique Don’t #4. Spanking or isolation- I am not saying that spanking is wrong, I just think it should be saved for very serious cases of active rebellion. In my home, lying or blatant disrespect got you to the woodshed. As for isolation, spending ten minutes in your room to cool down is a good idea. Spending ten hours isolated from the family is probably going to incubate a Napoleonic reaction: revenge.

Motivation Technique Don’t #5. Ignore the problem- Now this is the worst one of all. Any child, who feels they are not important enough to solicit some response from a parent when their conscience is telling them they deserve some, is going to get attention some other way. You are not going to like this escalation at all when the police or neighbors complain about your kid selling drugs or impregnating their daughter.

So, what does one do when little Johnny refuses to do any homework? First, you need to establish great communication with his teachers, so that you know what is expected on a daily basis. Then you just need to tell Johnny that as soon as his work is done to your level of expectation, he can eat. Until then, all food except bread and water is off limits.

Proverbs 16:26- A worker’s appetite works for him, for his hunger urges him on.

2 Thessalonians 3:10- If anyone is not willing to work let him not eat.

Doug was a very clever boy who loved magic tricks and the attention that such hand activities brought his way. As Doug’s teacher, I hounded him daily about his wasting class time when his work was not done. Finally, in total frustration I informed the private school’s principal that I wanted Doug dismissed from the institution as I felt we were wasting his parents’ money.

But Mom cried her eyes out to the principal and I was told by him that Doug would have to remain in my classroom. I said OK, under one condition; Doug would go home with me Monday through Thursday evenings and he would not be allowed any food until his work was done for the day. Mom reluctantly agreed. When Doug went all day without food (and also without my nagging about his lack of work) I began to have some doubts. When he went to bed that evening quite content to have spent his entire day playing with his magic toys, I was concerned that if this kept up, I might have my own meals taken at the local jail.

But when morning arrived, Doug made a beeline for the fridge. Fortunately, I was there to ask him if his work was done. I told him that as soon as yesterday’s work was done, he would be allowed to eat. He went to school hungry, but by 9 AM all his work was done and he was sent to the lunchroom where a sumptuous meal awaited him. From that time on, I had no more problems with Doug. In 7 weeks he accomplished more work than in the previous 19. No more nagging. No more punishments. I had gained a far greater respect for the effectiveness of Biblical directives.

In conclusion, in order to deal with the laziness that we all possess to a certain degree, do not embrace any of the five foolish motivation techniques outlined above that will turn your home into a battleground. Simply allow the natural need for food to motivate the work ethic that God wants all of us to enjoy. There is a peace that comes from accomplishing a good day’s work. The food that we do eat at the end of such a day will taste better and satisfy our need for nourishment in more than a physical way. Our children’s spirits will be nourished as well.

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