“Motivate Your Child” Book Review
Motivate Your Child describes itself as a Christian parent’s guide to raising children who do what they need to do without being told. Even though it is written for a Christian audience, their tips are still applicable for parents who follow different religious views. The book is divided into two sections. The first section outlines their theory of moral development and helps parents learn how to train their children’s hearts. The second section focuses on spiritual development.
I appreciated the authors’ focus on the heart. What a fantastic organ to compare to decision making! If our hearts yearn to love and serve others, we will become more inclined to listen and act in ways which show that compassion. In the book, the authors offer practical skills to help parents nurture self-responsibility, internal motivation, and integrity in their family.
Here are some of my favorite tips from Motivate Your Child:
Teach a child to form internal reminder for chores, rather than waiting for the nags of Mom or Dad.
Does your children seem to only do something after you’ve asked them 5 times and are now having to yell? This book teaches parents how to reverse that unhappy pattern. An example could be encouraging your child to associate touching his bedroom doorknob with the question, “Is my room clean?” and looking back to check before he leaves the room. What a relief for parents! There are many more examples in the book of how to teach children to associate tasks with something other than a parent’s nagging.
Use meaningful statements that encourage your child to think about what they are currently doing.
Some wonderful example of this include saying, “Quiet voice” instead of “Why are you being so loud?” or “Manage your energy” instead of “Stop bouncing off the walls like an animal.” Using statements helps a child learn to evaluate their current actions, and encourages them to re-adjust to a more appropriate behavior. Just like in my #1 tip above, this transfers accountability away from the parents and aligns responsibility back to the child.
Time out is about more than “time” spent away.
The authors described how time-out as a disciplinary tactic often follows the pattern of telling children their behavior was wrong and sending them to time-out for a specific number of minutes. My husband and I are guilty of this! Johnny sets the timer on the microwave for 2 minutes when our oldest child is sent to timeout. The authors wisely explain that this pattern does not teach a child accountability because they simply learn to wait out their time. Instead, they offer a helpful 3-step process that explains the importance of confession (acknowledging what was wrong), getting to the heart (discussing why that behavior was wrong), and finally developing a plan for the future (what the child can do differently next time). I appreciated the outline of their ideas regarding this issue, and we have now implemented those strategies into our time-out plans.
Motivate Your Child would be a great resource for any family, and there are more tips in the book than I can describe in one review. I hope it finds a place in your bookshelf and to help with that goal.
Also, the National Center for Biblical Parenting offers more information about this book and others on: