Motivation is a key to helping any child to push through to the next big thing. This is not only true for children with learning differences, it's ESSENTIAL! But how do I motivate a child who does not want to try new things? Great question! One problem: there are as many answers as there are children. With that said, there are a few principles from the study of behavior that are helpful.
1. A child with a learning differences often needs an external motivator. It would be great if she wanted.to learn to tie her shoes because she is self motivated and wants to do it herself. That would be nice but it doesn't often happen with this child.
2. First....Then. Is often a great strategy. IF you try to tie your shoes 10 times THEN you will be able to use your Leapster toy for five minutes. This encourages perseverance when a child wants to give up. Perseverance is vital if she is going to learn non-preferred tasks that are difficult for her.
3. Find a very strong motivator for the child to earn. This motivator may wane in its power to get this child to persevere and work hard. If this happens, a parent needs to find a new motivator. Some children need frequent tweaks to this. It is often called a reinforcer. It may take work finding the "right" reinforcer now. Just because it works now doesn't mean it will last for long. If it ceases to motivate, find a new reinforcer that's more powerful.
4. Isolate the reinforcer. If it is the most motivating thing for this child, he can only have access to it by doing the hard thing that is being asked. If he has access to the reinforcer any other way, it loses its power to motivate in this situation. If the reinforcer is 5 minutes playing his favorite video game, he should only be able to play this game by doing this skill. If he has 15 minutes on this game after school then it will not be as motivating.
I would love to hear from you about things that have worked in motivating your child. Please share comments and questions.
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