According to an article in Time Magazine, the four main ways to motivate people are:
1. Stop bribing them.
2. Make them feel something.
3. Emphasize progress.
4. Form a cult with a shared belief.
Now, we all know that mothers have been trying to motivate their offspring to clean their rooms, help with chores, finish their homework, and behave less like savages since before the beginning of time (pun intended!). While I won’t say that the list above is completely off the mark, I do think it needs a bit of tweaking to align with how moms motivate their kids in the real world.
Here are the four most common ways moms motivate their kids:
1. Don’t stop bribing them. Maybe don’t always start with bribing, but there comes a time and place when bribing is the best way to get it done. Example: it’s been a long day, you’re done with arguing, and you’re willing to give anything for your kids to just shut up and go to bed without complaint just this once. Ice cream sundaes for dinner can make it happen. Trust me, I’ve tested this theory.
2. Let them know they will feel sadness if they don’t do what you say. This sadness will come once you put on your Angry Face and hand out either a lengthy Time Out, the removal of iPad access for the foreseeable future, or cancel upcoming plans that include joy. Let them weigh the experience of doing the simple thing you asked them to do with one of those in their hearts. There’s a good chance they’ll make the right decision.
Please note that this option is as close to reasoning with a kid as you will ever get. EVER.
3. Count to three slowly to ensure they move faster. Progress can’t happen while a kid is standing there, stagnantly having a poutrum (that’s a silently pouty tantrum). It’s also tough to pick up toys, vacuum, or write an essay about Mesopotamia while stomping your foot and preparing a counter-argument. Once the counting begins, you will witness an exponentially faster-moving child. It’s like magic, only scarier.
4. Tell them that no matter how mad they get at you for requesting they do something, there’s no way out of this family SO GET USED TO IT AND JUST DO WHAT I SAY THE FIRST TIME I SAY TO DO IT. You brought them into this family and there is no getting out of it. This ain’t prison, honey. It’s much worse than that. So get to work.
Graphic: Kim Bongiorno