[43] How to use short-term motivation to get your child to revise

get your child to reviseWhen it comes to studying for exams, I find there are two kinds of students:

  1. Those who are highly self-motivated and driven to do their best, like I was back in the day
  2. Those who find it really hard to get motivated and are easily distracted, like my sister who you'll know about if you've signed up for my 10 Steps to Exam Success Download.

In this post I'll be talking about how you can get the second group of students to revise because, well frankly, you don't need any help if you've got the first type of student!

How to use short-term motivation to get your child to revise

The students who don't have a clear reason in their heads to do well and are easily distracted usually have one very clear thing in common. They're more interested in finding pleasure in the present than they are in working hard for an undefined future goal. They'd much rather be on their phone chatting with their friends, playing on their Xbox or watching the next episode on Netflix.

As a parent, what you need to do is find a way of harnessing their present-focused, pleasure-seeking nature for the purposes of revision.

I call this mini-motivations.

What are mini-motivations?

Mini-motivations is my way of turning distractions into incentives in order to get revision done.

Basically, you make a deal with your child that if they do 20 minutes of revision they can have 5 minutes on their phone. If they do two and half hours of revision this evening they can watch one Netflix episode before they go to bed. If they do 30 hours of revision in one week of the Easter holidays they can have a whole day off at the weekend to do something fun.

You could call it bribery (but haven't you been doing that with them ever since they were toddlers, in one form or another?) but I prefer to think of it as reversing the psychology of pleasure: you have to earn your rewards.

How to make mini-motivations work

The first thing I'd do is sit down with your child and explain to them that whilst in some way it's lovely that they're so present and pleasure focused (after all, all of us type-A, goal driven personalities are trying to seek happiness by becoming more present-focused through mindfulness practices) but life just isn't like that. If they want all the little joys that life has to bring, unless they've got a whopping great trust-fund, they're going to have to get into the habit of earning life's pleasures.

You might want to put it a little bit less bluntly than that, though.

Once you've got this concept through to them talk about all the little pleasures they might enjoy as incentives for getting revision done. Examples include:

  • Snacks, meals and drinks they enjoy e.g. if you study hard you can have your favourite smoothie in your morning revision break or a piece of cake in your afternoon revision break
  • What they like to do to move their body e.g. go for a walk with the dog, go for a run, go to rugby practice or trampolining
  • What they like to do to socialise
  • What they like to do to chill-out and unwind

You can find out more about mini-motivations in my book The Ten Step Guide to Acing Every Exam You Ever TakeThere's a free workbook that you can download as a companion to the book and there is a framework in there for you to gather ideas for mini-motivations.

Then, create a revision plan with them where not only are the work slots mapped out but also the revision-breaks / rewards are mapped out. Make it clear to them that the work has to be done to get the reward.

You can find out more about how long to revise for before you earn a revision break, how long revision breaks should be and also some ideas about what to do in revision breaks in some of my other blog posts.

What to do next

Have this conversation with your child and map out their revision timetable, include revision incentives, or mini-motivations. Try it for a few days, or a week, and then review it with your child to see how it's worked and what can be tweaked and improved along the way.

Keep revision in context

The last thing I want to leave you with is something of a reality check. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. At the end of the day, you can't force your child to revise. I see so many parents' stress levels going through the roof at this time of year as they despair that their children are flushing their life chances down the toilet and as they witness their children squandering their potential and talent.

But what's really important? Is it to have a screaming match every day over revision? Or is it to love your child for who they are and let them learn from the experience of taking these exams in the fullest sense?

As one mum who has been there and done that said on Facebook the other week, just love them. There is nothing more and nothing less that you can do.

Has this helped?

I really hope this has helped you, as it's helped many of the families that I work with inside The Extraordinaries Club, my online hub where I reach students the study skills, habits and mindset for exam success and their parents how to effectively support them through the exam years. If you and your child are in need of more help with revision and exams, check it out. I'd love to help!



(Visited 1,875 times, 14 visits today)

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below