‘How to Motivate Your Child’ – A Book Review
Recently I became a ‘Booklook Blogger’. This means that I can request paperbacks or ebooks of my choice for free, in exchange for posting a review on my blog. I’m not required to write a positive review, nor do I receive compensation of any kind, but I couldn’t rave more about the first book that I was sent – ‘How to Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need To Do Without Told’ by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. It’s a big title, and sometimes I avoid ‘How to’ books, especially on the subject of parenting, Sometimes I’ve discovered that books like this are all about encouraging us to do more with our children. And one can come away from such books feeling a little exhausted or overwhelmed. Like there are more things that we ought to squeeze in to our already busy schedule. I’m also a little wary of a titles like ‘Motivate Your Child’ as we seem to be pushing our children to do more and more today, when in fact they might not be ready to handle quite so much.
But preconceived ideas aside, I thought that it might be a good idea to read a book about encouraging motivation in children. While I’ve been pleasantly surprised that my eldest has been motivated with his homework this week, helping with chores around the house or tidying his bedroom however is a different story! Sometimes it feels like pulling teeth trying to get my kids to help with age appropriate tasks around the house. My children are only little, but my aim is that they would be able to do a few things for themselves without having to rely on ‘parental prompters.’ ‘We don’t want to do what we have to do’. they might say. Yet life is full of things that we don’t want to do.
Authored by the founders of the National Centre for Biblical Parenting in the United States, this book offers a rich toolbox of strategies – it is jam packed with gentle, down to earth, practical and manageable suggestions for motivating our children and imparting faith to them. Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanna Miller have a wealth of experience helping parents cultivate a healthy conscience and a vibrant faith in their kids. It is a Christian parenting book woven with helpful scripture throughout, however if you aren’t a Christian, many of the concepts will still be helpful. It isn’t preachy, nor is it condescending, as some parenting books can sometimes be. The book is divided into two parts – Part One emphasizes the encouragement of moral development in children, and part two is about encouraging spiritual development in our children.
Reading this book has enabled me to reflect on how to build intrinsic motivation in my children. I love the idea of heart based approach to parenting. We know that problems happen in the heart before they are seen in behaviour. Behaviour modification works to a point, because behavioural rewards appeal to the selfishness that is in our own hearts. However, this book demonstrates that there is a ‘large bucket’ of parenting tools that are heart related. The authors argue that a heart based approach to parenting enables children to make more progress quickly with what they need to do each day.
The take home message that I received from this book is that we need to be intentional with our children about discipling their hearts, and praying about heart issues that come up. The authors argue that many of us have been influenced by secular humanism in the way we parent, and that perhaps we overemphasize rewards and punishments. I really liked the emphasis on relationship building with our children as a way to engage with their hearts. I liked the simple ‘Family Time’ concept, which is a family devotion over dinner once a week. It’s a strategy that is manageable, even within a busy family structure. And I liked the emphasis on teaching children to care for others, and not making life all about them.
This book is certainly worth a look if you would like to learn about:
- How to encourage internal motivation so your kids don’t have to rely on you to get things done.
- How to train a child’s conscience – ‘Courage without a strong sonscience can lead children into all kinds of calamity.’
- Ways of talking about faith and spiritual truths in ways that are engaging and fun.
- How to help children respond when they make mistakes.