Preparing for Kindergarten: How Should Parents Motivate Their Children?

26 May 2020

If you have a child who is afraid to be in kindergarten and doesn’t seem to be motivated to make an effort, the first thing you want to do is explore whether there is some obstacle getting in his way. Learning issues, social challenges, attention or emotional problems can all cause kids to disengage academically. But not all kids who are afraid of kindergarten have a diagnosable problem. And there are a number of things parents can do to help motivate kids to try harder. Below are tips on how parents should motivate their children as a way to prepare for kindergarten.


Many parents are nervous about rewarding kids for good work, and it’s true that tangible rewards can turn into a slippery slope. But there are ways to use extrinsic motivation that will eventually be internalised by your kid. Kids respond really well to social reinforcers like praises, hugs, high fives, and those kinds of things. Then they start to achieve because it feels good for them.

Experts encourage parents to use rewarding activities that would have probably occurred either way, but placing them after a set amount of time doing homework. He suggests treats that are easy to provide but that your child will enjoy, such as going for ice cream or sharing a candy bar. He also recommends breaking work up in chunks and using small breaks as rewards for getting through each chunk.

Let’s say your child woke up when the alarm went off and got ready for school on his own. Or he stayed in bed all night rather than waking you at 3 a.m. and hopping into your bed. Be sure to let him know how much you appreciate his efforts and don’t forget to add how nice it was to ride with him to school without feeling rushed, or how well-rested you feel from that uninterrupted night’s sleep.


The message you want to send is that your respect hard work. Praising kids for following through when things get difficult, for making a sustained effort, for trying things they’re not sure they can do successfully, can all help teach them the pleasure of pushing themselves. Praise for good grades that come easily can make kids feel they shouldn’t have to exert themselves.

While using bribes in the short term isn’t harmful for things like getting your child to stop having a tantrum on an airplane, external rewards won’t build your child’s character or impart the value of keeping his room organized or getting to sleep at a decent hour. What does? Encouraging him to follow the lead of what makes him feel good inside — such as satisfaction in a newly learned skill or a job well done. He’s not only more successful in the long term, he’s also happy along the way, and inspired.


As a parent, your presence in the academic life of your child is crucial to her commitment to work. Promise to do homework with her, and let her know that you’re available to answer questions. Get in the habit of asking her about what she learned in school, and generally engage her academically. By demonstrating your interest in your child’s school life, you’re showing her school can be exciting and interesting. This is especially effective with young kids who tend to be excited about whatever you’re excited about. A conversation is always better than an interrogation.