Written by Dr. Kyle Barrett, Director of Spiritual Formation

Leaky buckets or raging fires. Our kids are going to be one or the other – a leaky bucket shot through with holes caused by skepticism and doubt from parents; or, a raging fire that has been kindled by parents who nurtured self-motivation. Greg Harris offers a few helpful pieces of advice to parents who want to fan the flames of self-motivation in their son or daughter:

Make encouragement your first response.

Proverbs 10:11 says, “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.” When it comes to stimulating self-motivation in our kids the most life giving thing we can do as parents is use our words well. In the moment our kids show some initiative – whatever it may be – we need to find a way to praise them for it. This isn’t always easy since their initiative may mean messes to clean up! But, a parent’s words matter so use them wisely.

Push your kids to try new things.

Going out for a sports team, trying out for a part in the upcoming theater production, training for a long hike in the mountains, or learning an instrument. Each of these is an opportunity for our kids to be stretched beyond their comfort zone. This will mean a sacrifice on our part in terms of time and money (especially if it takes a while to find the “it” that motivates our kids!). But, this investment will pay off in big ways since attempting new things gives our kids much-needed confidence.

Challenge criticism and skepticism from siblings.

Nothing crushes motivation quicker than criticism and skepticism from those closest to us. We’ve already talked about the importance of our words as parents but siblings play a significant role as well. Our kids need to see that we have confidence in them especially in front of siblings who may be out to push buttons.

We’ll finish up next week with a few more thoughts on the benefits of having self-motivated kids but let’s all strive to be the kind of parents who speak life to our kids and fan the flame of God-honoring self-motivation.


To read part 1 of this series, please click HERE