Learning to awaken enthusiasm is a powerful tool for working with children to help motivate and engage them, whether you're trying to get out the door in the morning or learning multiplication. Certainly we can use external goals, rewards, lectures and explanations or even fear to help motivate but what if we could awaken and direct the natural energy and enthusiasm that lies within?
It's not as hard as it might seem. Using simple things like movement, affirmation, music, humor or a bit of creativity and imagination we can help get the energy moving and then guide children in the right direction.
I recently had an experience of working in the garden with a few children. It was toward the end of our time together and we had one last planting project to complete but as energetic 4 and 5 year olds their attention span was limited.
After helping with a few seedlings their focus began to wander toward playing with each other. Their teacher tried to reengage them, telling them there were a few more seedlings to plant and that they could come back and check on the plants the next time they came to the garden but they didn't seem very interested.
Lucky for us they were well-behaved and mostly willing to go along with the activity but their enthusiasm wasn't quite there. As their attention continued to wander I asked them what they would like to name these last seedlings. Immediately their energy came to a focus and they became engaged. "Ready Freddy!" one shouted.
"Okay let's get Ready Freddy in the ground. Where should we plant him? What do you think he will like?" The whole experience came to life for them in a new way. They delighted in finding the perfect place and treating "him" with tender care, not only awakening their enthusiasm but cultivating compassion through this connection with nature.
My initial reaction when faced with unwillingness, lack of interest, or just plain boredom was to become upset and proceed as if the children were being naughty. This approach usually succeeded only in making things worse. Eventually, I learned to shift the focus of my efforts to changing my students’ level of energy. To my delight, I found that willingness and interest increased dramatically.
from For Goodness' Sake by Nitai Deranja, co-founder of Education for Life
Sometimes when motivation is lacking it can create a sense of tension in us as the adults. Things need to get done - bath time, meal time, homework, errands etc. We can find ourselves asking "How do I get them to do what is needed?" sometimes relying on rewards and punishment to "get things done."
But what if we reframed this question to be "How can I change the energy? How can I awaken their enthusiasm?" Along with things like playfulness, humor and music, movement is a powerful tool for helping to shift the energy, awakening enthusiasm and motivation.
There's lots of creative ways we incorporate movement even in our day-to-day tasks, turning simple things like cleaning up or running errands into a game. You might also enjoy sharing these Superconscious Living Exercises with your child too. Combining movement and affirmation, they are a powerful (and fun) technique for helping to raise the energy. Try it yourself and see how you feel!