How to Help Kids Get on Track—and Stay There: Eight Tips Revealed!Share
Kids often have a hard time getting and staying on task. How can parents help children and teens reach their goals? Check out these eight practical (yet possibly surprising) recommendations for fostering productivity.
There’s no one definitive way to inspire children to become motivated and productive. Strategies will vary depending on age, circumstances, the ease or difficulty of the task, and whether the child is ready to tackle matters and see things through. A specific task or goal might have to do with a child’s intellectual or creative development, social activities, leadership initiatives, or something else altogether.
Parents can support children’s and teens’ productivity by offering encouragement, and by helping their child sharpen organizational skills, follow routines, balance the demands of everyday life, and remain focused. All good!
Here are some additional (and perhaps unanticipated) approaches for parents to consider in order to energize kids and spur their productivity.
1. Enrich children’s lives with language, music, and physical activities. Research demonstrates that reading, language, music, and movement can improve children’s cognitive development, including better developed and coordinated neural networks. Encourage poetry, art, dance—whatever stimulates the senses. These pursuits can work to activate parts of the brain, and enhanced capacities translate into more efficient learning as well as more excitement about learning. Children who are alert are more likely to apply themselves.
2. Spark children’s curiosity. Help kids hone their inquiry and thinking skills. Teach them how asking questions can lead to intriguing connections, and new or increased knowledge. Learning to ask who, what, where, when, why, and how can get them engaged. When actively involved in a task there’s more likelihood they’ll stay committed.
3. Encourage ample downtime. This includes time for quiet introspection, innovation, mind wandering, and exploration at a leisurely pace—both indoors and outside. Knowing there’s quality time set aside for this, children learn to focus more pointedly when they have to direct their attention, get to work, or complete the more serious learning required of them.
4. Lighten up. Try not to be consistently demanding. Focused attention can be stressful. Break it up. Chill. Find opportunities to laugh, hug, and enjoy spending time with one another.
5. Model calm, purposeful resolve. Demonstrate a focused, measured approach to learning and doing. Parents who discern what they do well—and, too, what they can aspire to do more efficiently or effectively—are better able to teach their child to do the same. So remember to focus on your own intellectual and creative fulfillment as well as your child’s.
6. Offer direct, immediate feedback. Constructive, sensitive, and meaningful comments can spur momentum, keeping kids interested so they don’t go off task, and helping their minds stay active. Praise effort and not just results.
7. Revisit the expectations. Perhaps a child’s to-do list needs a little revision, clarification, or downsizing. Sometimes a visual representation is the way to go to crystallize intentions or processes. Some kids like to see a plan of action like a pictorial road map. Others may need assistance co-creating a different but individually tailored kind of framework so they can figure out what to do and when to do it.
8. Harness gratitude. When adults convey and encourage an attitude of gratitude, children learn to appreciate their capacities and to be thankful for the joys of life, and this can translate into a desire to make the most of them. And, that kind of desire fuels effort, energy, optimism, and productivity.
For information and resources on helping children develop a sense of industry and more, see Not Now, Maybe Later: Helping Children Overcome Procrastination (by Joanne Foster), and Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids (by Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster). See more at Beyond Intelligence
Gratitude and the Simple Moments That Matter So Much by Ariadne Brill
The Heart of a Gratitude Practice by Michele Kambolis
Reading to Kids: Ten Reasons It Matters, Ten Ways to Do It by Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster
Too Small to Fail (a program funded by the Clinton Foundation) emphasizes the importance of language rich environments, and the benefits of reading to children from the earliest days.
Productivity and Kids: What Do Parents Need to Know? by Joanne Foster