Knowledge and Resource Hub
19 March 2019

How to motivate children: Science-based approaches for parents, caregivers, and teachers

This brief article from Harvard University discusses approaches that parents, practitioners, and teachers  can use to promote children's positive motivation and learning during development. Follow babies' lead so that when interacting with infants, notice what they pay attention to, and engage with them around their interests. Elicit curiosity by providing children with opportunities to interact with new objects—and let them lead and learn. Encourage children’s playful exploration as it is an important aspect of development. Prioritise social interaction during learning as even the best-designed and most effective apps cannot replace real-life social interactions with adults and peers. Challenge children just enough as they lose motivation when a task is too easy, but also when it is so difficult as to be insurmountable. Give children agency so they have some degree of self-determination, and can elect to pursue tasks that are personally meaningful. Provide incentives only when necessary. Praise the process (child's effort) rather than the outcome. Maintain a close connection with adolescents as high parental support and open dialogue are associated with fewer problem behaviours, including less substance abuse, delinquency and risk-taking.