VCE Motivation: Bribery, Threats and Restrictions, but at what cost?

Our staff psychologist Christina Rigoli was quoted on page 3 of The Age today, discussing the tactics parents use to motivate their kids to study.

Among them — bribing with $18,000 holidays, threats of boarding school, and house-wide technology freezes!

The parents confessing to these ‘motivation tactics’ said their efforts paid off, but this is more a matter of chance than formula.

The key distinction in this equation is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to motivation…

What may work in encouraging one child could backfire and have the opposite affect on another.

So how do you know what the right method of motivation is for your child?

Christina says that at the heart of the matter is helping your child to find motivation, rather than simply pushing them to be motivated.

‘Unless you have that drive to perform well, you are not going to perform…’

‘If a student knows what they want to do after school then that is motivating them to achieve.’

But what if, like many young students, they don’t have any clear direction for their future?

How can these students find the motivation to study?

We’ve discussed the problems with punishment on the blog before, and Christina maintains that punishment will not be effective in motivating your child.

For most students, the VCE is a stressful enough in itself, so the added pressure of a looming punishment may overwhelm them and get in the way of a productive approach to study.

And bribery can be a slippery slope, and set up unrealistic correlations between effort and reward for the future.

Incentives and positive reinforcement are a better option, says Christina.

And remembering to place your praise on the process of studying and learning, rather than the outcome of these activities, will yield a more motivated approach.

So encourage your children to be motivated for short-term goals rather than looking at the big picture.

Institute small rewards and incentives for studying hard and showing commitment and determination.

Teenagers need to feel that they have some control over their situation, so negotiating the terms of these incentives with them will work best.

And whatever approach you take, work on supporting your child through the stresses and challenges of their final year.

Knowing that you are working with them to help them, rather than putting extra pressure on them to succeed, will be a motivating factor in itself.

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