Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Working on Internal Motivation with Motivate Your Child {a Review}

I have had the awesome opportunity to be on the launch team for the newest book from the founders of the National Center for Biblical Parenting, Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. The title of this book is Motivate Your Child and it has the subtitle,  A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told. As soon as I learned about this new book, I was  hoping to have a chance to read it.  I mean, who wouldn't want to have a child that did what they were supposed to do without the parent having to nag at them, or yell and scream. More importantly, my husband and I desire to bring up our children in the ways of the Lord.

This book is separated into two parts:
  • Part 1- Moral Development in Children
  • Part 2- Spiritual Development in Children
"You will learn: • How to build a strong conscience to strengthen internal motivation • How faith changes kids in practical, down-to-earth ways • Ways to help self-focused kids think of others • A strategy to help kids who tend to blame, rationalize, or defend • Ways to use consequences for heart change • Specific heart-based strategies to develop responsibility and initiative

Here are the titles of the chapters, so you can see the wealth of wisdom the authors have shared:

Part 1:
  • Internal Versus External Motivation
  • Parenting Requires Strategy
  • What is the Conscience?
  • Helping Kids Choose to Do What's Right
  • When Kids Make Mistakes
  • Learning to Value Integrity
  • Compassion: Thinking Beyond Oneself
  • Kids Taking Initiative
  • What About Consequences? 
  • Putting the Conscience to Work Outside the Home
 Part 2: 
  • God's Plan
  • Family Time Once a Week
  • Relationship is Foundational
  • Scripture + Creativity = Impact
  • Practicing Faith Teaches That It's Real
  • Prepare for Resistance
  • Leading a Child to Christ
  • Children and the Holy Spirit
  • Connecting Children to the Bible
  • Going it Solo
  • Will You Take the Family Challenge?
The introduction invites us to "[imagine] the destination" so we can get the bigger picture and help make a commitment, which will help us, as parents, to keep strong through the challenges that come our way. As parents, we dream about what our children may want to be when they grow up, we desire that they are successful in life. However, these days, it seems parents don't think as much about the kind of person they want their children to be, and that is what we want to focus on with this book. 

So many philosophies out there these days for child rearing focus on changing the behavior of the child. However, it is so important to remember, we want to work on the heart of the child. That is internal motivation and working on the conscience.  It is not teaching a child that they need to do something out of fear of the consequences or for what they can gain.  That is what this book wants us to focus on. They call it Heart Parenting. 

As I was reading through this book, I realized I lack internal motivation myself. For example, when it comes to trying to lose weight, I have little motivation unless there is a reward. When I am a part of a challenge, where there is the possibility of winning a prize, I have a whole lot more motivation to keep going. I struggle with why I can't just know that getting fit is why I should be losing weight. But that is how lots of different philosophies work.  It seems that is the way I have been conditioned, but that isn't how I want to raise the children. I don't want to appeal to the children's selfishness. You know, the "if you do this...you will get that" type of thing.

Do you find yourself always having to remind a child about the task they should be completing next? More likely than not, your child is focused on themselves and their own activities. The authors call this Level One thinking. By working through the ideas in this book and working on developing your child's conscience, you can see your children start to think about more than the task at hand; they will learn to think about how their actions affect others and what is going on around them. They will learn responsibility. This is called Level Two thinking.

This book is full of practical insights and examples of real life parenting. One of the first things the book shares is a way to get children to develop internal promptings, as opposed to the parent being the conscience. The conscience is explained, along with its role in our lives and how the Holy Spirit is involved. The example used hit very close to home. In this example, a family is struggling to get ready for the day. I have to tell you, I wish this book had been out when I was raising my older children as a single mom and was trying to get us moving each day. 

One of the first things I wanted to do, was work on getting the children on a schedule to make our days run smoother and be less stressful. An example of this is found in the first chapter of the book. I have been using the children's Student Logbooks to help them focus on what needs to be done, so I don't have to always be the one telling them. The book suggests checkpoints to keep the children on task. Instead of just having the listing of what the children have to do, they now also have a few checkpoints throughout their day. If they finish their tasks before the designated time, they will have extra time to play. However, if they procrastinate or mess around, they will have to get straight to work, or in the afternoon, they will be losing time on the game system. Our final checkpoint is at night. If they are not ready on time, they will have to go to bed early and miss out on our bedtime show. It is all up to them staying on task. 

I love the phrase that is suggested in the book to keep children on task. Instead of constantly telling the child what to do or asking if they did something, they use the phrase, "Watch the clock." In this way children start to become more aware of their surroundings and on the fact that time is passing.

I wanted to take a quick look at the "Toolbox of Consequences" that is mentioned in the  middle of the book. One of my struggles has always been choosing the best consequence for the situation. It is mentioned in the book that too many parents only have a few consequences to choose from, which of course means that it may not be fitting the situation. Natural consequences, logical consequences, loss of privilege, and more parental control are discussed. One of the things that stuck in my mind involves taking away a privilege. Usually a parent will take something away from a child for a set amount of time. The reason this can backfire it that there is no motivation for the child to change their behavior because there is no way to earn back what they lost.

When we were shopping a few weeks ago, I decided to utilize one of the tools from this toolbox. Our daughter was not behaving in the store. I told her she would have to hold my hand and could walk by herself again when she could show me she could walk properly. I have to say,  I wasn't sure if I was going to get through to her. She kept trying to pull away and continued to twist my hand around for most of the store. But I refused to give in. It wasn't until she missed a chance to see the lobsters that she finally settled down after talking to daddy.  I am still not sure if I handled that the best way, but I was trying to implement "loss of privilege" and "more parental control."

There is just so much wonderful information packed into this book. I have tried explaining these points to my husband, but I feel like I need to read it again a little at a time so we can focus on one strategy at a time, to really get a good grasp on it. We have decided that we will read the book together, so we can discuss and see how best to implement the ideas. 

I love that Motivate Your Child is full of real life examples. However, there are times when strategies are suggested  and I wish there had been more of a step-by-step example to follow. As shown above, I still seem to struggle with knowing if something is truly an internal motivation, or if what I am trying to have the children do involved external motivation. This is one of the reasons I want to make sure my husband and I are reading it together, to help clear up any misunderstandings. 

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