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It's not about motivation

Why can't I get them motivated?

I have parents coming to me all the time with “How do I get my daughter/son motivated!?”. Or, “Why can’t they get motivated about school/reading/sports?!”. Or, “I just cannot get my daughter/son motivated to do anything?!”

Well, after working with hundreds of kids over the last 20 years I have some news for you . . . it’s not about motivation.

Performance and success is not about motivation. Hear me out. It might have been about this same time last year, but think about the last time you decided – “this time I am going to do it!” I am going to start that new diet or exercise program. What happened? You got all motivated and pumped up. You might have even gone out and bought that new outfit or even that piece of exercise equipment or gym membership. Let me guess. Three months later?

Motivation is needed to get started. You need motivation to do anything you really don’t want to do. But motivation can rarely sustain you past the first few months. (Gym memberships count on this!)

Okay, so what is the key? The key is HABITS.

Performance and success happens easily when good habits are formed. Think about it. Crash or radical diets rarely work but a sensible permanent change to your eating habits do. In the end, your child’s habits will make the difference between whether they success or struggle.

So instead of trying to “motivate” your child, focus on developing new good success habits. (Something else potentially even more damaging happens with external motivation. If you force your child to do homework or practice karate guess what happens the second you stop pushing them?)

This is one of the elements the new Ohana SEL Program is based on – emotional stress/experiences, habits and awareness.

You can take advantage of this. While we are developing some common group habits at the dojo, your child will be in the habit-forming mode and mindset. You can piggyback on the energy and emotion by also forming some family habits at the same time.

So, what is the next habit you want your child to develop?

Yours for stronger kids,


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