The Parent Push: Motivating Kids to Succeed

Keith Henschen, professor of Sports Psychology at the University of Utah, explains pushing your child, may not be the answer.


A recent study found the average teenage student spends 10 to 15 hours per week on extracurricular activities. In addition to time, parents also invest a lot of money on these talents.

So how can you make the most that investment?

Make “Fun” a Priority

Sometimes we adults forget—a child’s attention span is very short. You have to make the activity, talent or skill fun.

Include Friends

If friends are there, they will last longer than if they were buy themselves.

Make Sure They are Learning
Kids have told us in research through the years that learning new skills is something that motivated them to come back. They like to learn new skills.

Do Not Push

There is a distinct difference between pushing and motivating. When it becomes more important to the parent than it is to the child, you are pushing. Another is when you have to force them to go to practice—you’re pushing. Set up an available opportunity available for them and say, “It’s up to you.” There is an important line you don’t want to cross; kids can pull back if a parent pushes too hard.

Model Behavior

Do the activity with them. Sports, skills, whatever. If you do it with them, they think it’s important to you and they want to please you. Kids see a parent learning, and they recognize learning is important.

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