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Nag-free motivation for 11 Plus success – How to motivate your Child

How to motivate your child without being a nag.


As a parent, it’s a fine line between letting your child learn to self-manage, and being ready to step in and crack the whip. Here, you’ll learn five handy tips for helping motivate your child without being discouraging or negative.

1. Understanding the “why” in what you do

This is a life lesson for adults as much as it is for kids. An answer to Why must you study? being Because my mum says so is not a good track to be on – the minute you take your eyes off your child, they’re going to stop concentrating. A better answer would be Because I want to be a […..] one day and that means I need to learn lots and get good marks.

It’s important to have one-on-one talks with your child to see what truly motivates them and makes them tick. Children love to ask questions and are naturally curious, so helping them see why their actions are important for reaching their dreams goes a long way in developing self-discipline when it comes to studying and preparing for the 11 Plus Exam.

2. See things from their perspective

Imagine you’re an 11-year old and you’ve just got home from school. Given the choice of watching TV or playing on the computer versus studying, which one would you pick? If your child resists studying, have a conversation to find out why. Are they having difficulty with a section and avoiding it? Are they tired from school and want a break? Do they want the routine or goals to be adjusted? Having feedback from your child is critical in getting them onboard and handling their responsibilities.

3. Dangle a carrot

Until your child is at a stage where they understand the bigger “why” in what they do, help them along with incentives. Start with small rewards for daily achievements, and talk about bigger, more meaningful rewards for larger milestones and exam success. It’s important not to use rewards for everything, though. You don’t want your child to become dependent on reward in order to put in the effort. Feeling good about themselves from heaps of praise for a new skill or achieving in a quiz or mock-exam can be far more meaningful and motivating.

4. Work with your child’s capabilities

There’s a lot of pressure associated with the 11 Plus Exam, especially if there’s a particular school you want your child to attend. The trick to managing this pressure is to take your child’s strengths and weaknesses into consideration. Don’t compare your child to another, and focus praise during preparation time not on high marks, but on effort and mastery.

It’s not uncommon for resistance to kick in when a child feels that their efforts aren’t good enough to earn praise. During the early days of preparing for the 11 Plus Exam, focus attention on understanding the concepts without time pressure or focus on marks. Then, once mastery has been achieved, build on it with speed and accuracy. Avoid reprimanding your child if they don’t achieve, rather suggest they keep practicing until they’re satisfied with their marks.



5. Set a good example

Remember when your child was a baby and refused certain foods until they saw you were eating it and curiosity got the better of them? Well, the same is true for forming good habits – children learn through observation and setting a good example for them goes a long way in motivating them. Show appreciation for your child’s study efforts with things like thank you for studying without me asking you to, or, I really appreciate the effort you’re putting in to your studying, and, I can really see the improvement from just a few days ago, good job!

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