The greatest motivator is this: knowing that you are growing, that you are improving, and that you have changed in some way. The most frequent question I get asked in my work with young girls is this: “How do I motivate my daughter?”. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to that question or any “quick fix”.
Motivation is not something that we can really offer another or give (too bad!). Believe me, as teacher, I have tried! We can try to motivate with monetary rewards such as stickers, candy, money, or a fun activity. Sometimes, extrinsic motivators like these do work and can be effective. However, a greater and longer lasting motivator is one with intrinsic value. Motivation comes from within!
Think about a goal you have set for yourself…it could be a school goal or something related to health and fitness. What motivates you more: working towards a treat such as a new outfit or money for a job well done or the fact that you start to notice that your hard work has paid off and you are learning, growing, changing, and becoming better at an activity or closer to reaching your ultimate goal?
When we know that we are growing, we truly start to embody the notion that our intentions (the decision to change) and our efforts (hard work towards that change) are actually working! This is empowering!
There are different ways to know we are growing. Sometimes, we know because of our own observations and feelings. More often, we know because of the comments and observations of others. Teachers, parents, and friends can give us feedback and this is a great reward in and of itself. When people notice us, we feel valued. When people notice we are changing and growing, we feel that our efforts are valued. And both our own observations and the observations of others can determine whether or not we keep going. Nothing motivates more like the realization of success!
So, I am going to suggest just one thing: notice your daughters. Pay attention to what they say, what they do, and what is left unsaid. Notice changes – large and small. Because, it is when we notice them that they feel most validated and that they are more likely to keep trying: to keep changing and improving and to keep growing in their own understanding of themselves and their authenticity!