Motivate the kids differently – Sept 12

By Maria Tanudjaja


Having a brother who’s only a year older than me, growing up, I was always being compared to him. My brother was a top student and he’s somewhat popular among the teachers. We went to the same school and I was known better as ‘Paul’s younger sister’. My brother picked up the lessons fairly quickly and I struggled trying to keep up with him, or at least not to be too far behind.


Primary school wasn’t so bad. I managed to be in the top 5 while my brother was always number 1 in his class. Then we entered the season of Junior High. To my horror I spotted red marks coloring my report card, not only 1, but 2! I got 5 for both Physics and Chemistry.


I used to feel like I lived in the shadow of my great brother and it saddened me. It’s only until I grew up that I understood that my brother and I are different. We have different interests and strengths – and that’s ok. Now, whenever I visit my old bedroom inJakarta, I look proudly at my tiny trophy for writing that stands next to my brother’s giant trophy for physics.


Sometimes adults have a tendency to compare children with their siblings, classmates and other children of their age in the hope of motivating them, but comparing the kids will do more harm than good.


Kids develop at different rates.


Some kids are early developers; some are steady-as-you-go kids. So, instead of comparing one child with another, we can look at the kid’s improvement and use the result as the benchmark for his development. “You clean the dishes much better than you did a week ago. Good job!” (Grose, 2009).


Kids have different talents, interests and strengths.


It’s always interesting to hear the answers when we ask the kids what they want to be when they grow up. Children are not afraid to dream, they want to be a pilot, surgeon, tennis player, singer, chef, and the list goes on.


We need to help each child to identify his or her own talents and interests, which may be completely different to his or her siblings and school friends.


Appreciate and accept kids for their uniqueness.


Kids cannot flourish in an environment where they are being judged. Kids flourish in an environment of appreciation. They need to know that we accept them for their uniqueness (Sanchez, 2010).

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