How to Motivate a Child Who Doesn’t Care

Child Care Ohio,Child Development,Kids Activities,Parenting Tips
Bored baby with teddy bear

If you recently enrolled your son or daughter in an early childhood school, you might have noticed by now that there are instances when they are unmotivated to go to school. Many parents seek our advice on how to motivate a child, especially when it comes to their studies.

Before you can actually succeed in motivating your child, let us first discuss and define motivation.

Understanding Motivation

To be able to understand why a child acts as he/she does and how we can help a child, we need to understand the two kinds of motivation. Motivation has 2 kinds: extrinsic and intrinsic.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic or internal motivation is the driving force that allows you to do things because you want to do them. This type of motivation is very powerful. It is the drive inside of us that pushes us to pursue the things that we love and enjoy doing.

As infants, we have this intrinsic motivation to learn and explore the world. Depending on how parents deal with this intrinsic motivation, a child’s drive to learn and explore can either be suppressed or encouraged.

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic or external motivations are the things that you want to have or people that you want to be like. External motivation pushes us to do things so that we can achieve or succeed with our goals and aspirations.

External motivation can also be encouragement from important people in one’s life. It can be parents, siblings, friends, and other significant persons. What we see and feel about our surroundings are also powerful forces that a child can take to motivate himself.

Your child needs both of these types in order to succeed at school. As parents, you should first instill in him that going to school is a stepping stone for them to achieve their dreams and aspirations in life. Your encouragement will serve as their extrinsic motivation.

On the other hand, their natural drive to learn and explore will be their intrinsic motivation. Parents also have a big part to play so that your child won’t lose this motivation.

Help your child to cultivate his intrinsic motivation. You can do this by tuning into his feelings of accomplishment and the pride that he feels after he does a job well done.

How can I motivate my child?


Before you succeed in motivating your child, you need to observe the things that he/she enjoys. Naturally, children like to play. However, once they enter the school, they may get culture shock because they are not used to the setup.

Because of the new setup, the child may experience stress. As a result, the child is unmotivated to go to school, because it takes his/her precious playtime.

Motivating children to go to school can be frustrating. However, it is very important that as parents, you must not force your kids to do certain things. Forcing a child to do something that he does not really like may cause depression in the long run.

You may think that if you can always find ways to encourage your child, he/she will automatically be motivated. We believe it is not like that at all. In our preschool lessons we devote a lot of time to motivating children to attend the school.

What to Remember About How to Motivate a Child

Kids, because they think that their precious playtime is taken away from them, become motivated to resist and to underperform.

You must understand that no matter how unmotivated your child may seem, it is impossible to have no motivation. Every child is motivated, one way or another.

A child who is acting out is motivated to resist and do nothing. Doing nothing is actually an action. It is actually an action to resist you and his teachers. They may even reason out that they don’t need school.

Children are motivated to act like they don’t care whatever you do. They may say things like, “It’s hard”, “I can’t do it”, and most of all, “I don’t care.

To address this problem, you should first understand that you can’t make your child “care”. You can always read articles and blogs online and consult professionals, but it simply won’t solve the problem.

This problem is usually experienced by parents of high school students or those kids who are in their teen years. However, this is also a common problem for parents of toddlers.

Some kids are self-motivated, but there are other kids who need a little push here and there. Parenting is a really tricky business, you should get all the tips you could get.

If you notice that your son or daughter always answers to you with “I don’t care,” here are a few parenting tips you can follow.

  • Observe your kids. What is he most interested in? If your child likes dinosaur toys or dolls, you can use that and give them as a reward. Observing what they like and enjoy will give you an idea of what things you can give as rewards.
    Observing what your child enjoys lets you know your child more. In the long run, knowing your child gives you a better understanding of how he/she behaves a certain way. This is the golden rule of parenting, take time to know your child.
    As you learn along with your child, you may use the things that he likes as rewards for doing a job well done.
  • Before he gets to play online video games, make sure that it is earned. Kids are motivated to do things if there are rewards. They must be held accountable for their actions. For example, if he hasn’t finished his homework, he can’t play video games or watch YouTube.
    By doing their homework and chores, he earned 2 hours of video games. Be firm in this and slowly, you are teaching your kid that he is accountable for his actions.
    Little by little, you will be able to see the progress, and that you won’t have to constantly remind him to do his homework, because it has become a habit.

Az-Writing boy e-citizen

Source: Wikimedia

  • Talk Calmly to Your Child. Even if you are a parent, remember that kids need to be respected, too. If your kid is acting out, the best way out is to talk to him calmly.
    If you are going to shout as he shouts, you won’t be able to accomplish anything. Remember, children are just starting to learn to manage their emotions and behavior. You are the grown-up, so you should be the one to adjust.
    If your child is too angry, let him be.  Anger is just a normal emotion, everyone feels angry sometimes. You can sit down with him until he’s calm, then talk to him.
    If a child feels that he is being listened to, he will gradually open up and change his behavior towards you.
  • Kids are motivated when you ask them about their dreams and aspirations. Your child’s biggest dreams and aspirations are a good motivation. Talk to your child about what he wants to have someday. Sneak in different ideas on how your child is going to get those dreams.
    Once you have had him share about things that he wants to have, you can, later on, say, “That is nice, but you can’t get it if you don’t start working hard as early as now. Attending school is the stepping stone to achieve your dreams.”
    For little children, their dreams might be Transformers merch or Lego sets. You can tell him that we won’t buy it if you won’t cooperate with your teacher at school.
    By doing this, your child will realize that his actions have consequences. As he realizes that, his behavior will also gradually change for the better.
  • Do not raise your voice when they don’t seem to care.


Raising your voice shows frustration. It makes your child think that he is in control. As a result, he won’t change his behavior.

With a child who does not care, you, as a parent, should always keep your cool. Arguing with your child won’t give you good results. Instead, sit down with him, make him feel that even if he is being bad, you will stay by his side.

A child who is under a lot of stress tends to irrationally lash out at people, trying to get attention. As a parent, you should be the calm in his chaos. Do not add up to his stress, stay by his side no matter what.

Once he is calm, you can help him do his homework! You can give him tips so he can finish fast.

  • Tell your kids that their dreams matter to you, too.
    It is very important that you tell your kids that what their dreams in life matter to you, too. You can personalize it by telling them, “I want to support you in achieving your dreams, it matters to me. That is why I want you to do well.”
    This concept helps because as his parent, you are one of his significant others. Relationships are always a good motivation.
    This can be the key to building a good relationship. They need to feel that you will always be there to support them.
  • Don’t do your child’s tasks for him.
    Do not let your child learn “learned helplessness”. Learning this will make him think that if he can’t do something, somebody else will. This is a destructive approach.
    When a kid or a child in his teen years uses this shortcut, they will never learn independence. Let your child solve his problems on his own. Being dependent on other persons will never bring your kid to success.
    Start them small. As toddlers, let them have a share of house chores. Let them dress themselves up. These things encourage autonomy and independence.
    In fact, research shows that kids who have anxiety and depression are those who were not allowed to be independent very much.
    It helps when you introduce your kid to new friends with whom he can play and socialize. Kids tend to imitate what their friends do. You can also arrange a group study where he does his homework with his friend.
    Never do your child’s homework, let him do it. You can always help him to discover the correct answers and give advice, but don’t take on his tasks. Do not easily give the answer to a certain question.
    Family is there to guide them, not to give everything to them. You can always give tips to help them arrive at the correct answer.
    We believe that one of the most important things that a child or an adolescent can learn in his life is independence.
  • Be a Coach. Coaches get the most out of players. It is their job to help their players want to improve their skills.
    So, what does a coach do?
    He takes time to learn a little bit about his players. A good coach is not always just giving praise, rather, he keeps his players motivated by complimenting them on their specific skills.
    This coach parenting style needs to be learned by many parents. You must always keep your child looking forward. Comment on his/her progress instead of just blindly praising them when they haven’t really exerted that much effort.
    Believe it or not, kids can see through flattery and false praise like adults do. In the context of teens, false praise can sometimes backfire to worse behavior.
  • Set Deadlines and Use Structure.
    You must give your child an organized schedule of when to do his chores and schoolwork, and give a specific amount of time that he needs to finish. He can use this approach as he goes through high school and college.
    It is important to have a schedule and routine even at an early age. Routines help kids develop responsibility and autonomy in their life. It is also helpful in fostering cooperation in families.
    Also, schedules help a child to focus on one task at a time. It also gives him room for improvement. It makes sure that all of the efforts he exerted is not put to waste.
  • Give praise only when it is necessary.
    We were made to believe that praising children every time they do something nice is good when it is actually unhealthy. Many parenting articles have already discussed it. Humans are supposed to do good, so praising every good deed makes it futile.
    Praises are only good when you see how hard your child tried to achieve something. Like when he is able to build a puzzle that he has not built before. Praising the child continuously even after he has done it several times in the past no longer makes sense.
    Also, your child might always seek your praise just for doing what he needs to do. When we praise them for their effort and make them see that falling short is an opportunity to improve themselves, they will surely be more motivated to work hard and believe that they can achieve whatever they put their mind to.
  • Make sure that he still has time to play.
    Toddlers learn best through play. This fuels their intrinsic motivation to explore and learn. Through play, a child can discover lots of things.
    In school, kids are also given playtime. However, most of the time a child is in school, they are expected to be seated and listening to their teacher.
    After school, give your child one to two hours of play before doing his school work. Playing calms a child’s mind. Relieve the stress he had from behaving inside a room full of strangers by giving him some free play after school hours.
    Children who have enough playtime with their families are believed to be more independent, healthy, and happy.

Related Read: When Do Toddlers Learn Colors? Here’s What You Should Know

Source: Pixabay

  • Control your expectations.
    As parents, we know that you could not help but expect your child to always excel in school. However, your expectation of your child is one common cause of depression and anxiety among teens.
    Teens often feel the need to always please their parents because they want them to be proud. You may say that it can motivate your child, but sometimes, it does the opposite. Worse, teens experience a lot of stress and go into depression.
    You should learn to control your expectations of your kids. Giving them your all-out support whatever endeavor they go into will be very helpful for their success in the future.
    Kids with supportive parents have a better sense of self and can confidently speak to other people.
  • Choose a School with Good Teachers.
    Your choice of teacher is also a big part in motivating your child. Before you actually enroll in a school, make an effort to get to know the teachers first.
    You can always ask for recommendations from friends and family before you entrust your child to school. You can also check the school’s reviews online.
    The teacher will be the one to directly communicate with your child, and you wouldn’t want a teacher who doesn’t show an ounce of care and love for kids.
    The teacher will also be the one to teach your son about the basic knowledge that every person must have. So, make sure that the teacher has patience and knows how to handle kids well.
    A child’s first teacher has a huge impact on a child’s future. As a parent, you should also make sure that your child’s first school experience will be perfect.


How to Motivate a Child (in a Nutshell)

It really is hard to motivate a child who doesn’t care, but it is not impossible. With a little bit of effort on your part, along with collaboration with a school that values your child as much as you do, nothing is impossible.

What is important is for parents to realize that when a child is behaving a certain way, there is absolutely one big reason behind it. Observing the actions of your son can give you ideas on what you can do to solve the problem.

Another important point is to lessen your expectations of them. Do not add any more to the stress and anxiety that they are going through. Let them focus on their future.

Also, make them feel that they always have a family that they can turn to. Give them the love and the care that they need. They need to feel that they are free to be themselves.

It is true that you should be a role model for your child, but always keep in mind that they should also learn to follow their own path and that they must do it in their own way. Even if you can’t force your child to behave as you would like him to, you can always teach him to be responsible and aware of his choices.

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