3 Reasons Why Learning What Motivates Your Child Can Pay Off


It can be challenging to motivate your child to do something they don’t want to do, and this may be especially difficult if your child also has ADHD. People with ADHD often have issues with motivation, and studies have shown that this may be because of disruption of the dopamine reward pathway. People with ADHD are more likely to have a dopamine deficiency, which can contribute to a lack of motivation when it comes to chores, studying or other obligations. 

While finding the motivation to study may be more challenging for kids with ADHD, you can learn how to help them get motivated for their daily tasks. Each child is unique, and what motivates them will also be unique. But if you work together, you can figure out a way to help your child succeed.


Why should I learn what motivates my child?

There are two basic types of motivation: external and internal. External motivation is when you do a task because someone else wants you to do it, while internal motivation is when you do a task because you want to do it.

Internal motivation is determined by your own values and goals and is often stronger than external motivation, so the key when you’re working with a child who has ADHD is to figure out what motivates them. Learning what motivates your child will help you do three things:

  1. You’ll discover more effective ways to motivate your child.
  2. Your child will learn how to motivate themselves.
  3. You’ll be able to work with your child’s strengths instead of fighting against their weaknesses.

When your child is self-motivated, they’re more likely to get their tasks, such as studying or chores, accomplished. Your job is to help them figure out what their values and goals are. Then, you two can work together to determine how to harness those goals and values to help your child get things done.

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How do I increase motivation in my child?

Internal motivation is an important part of Executive Function skills, which people with ADHD often struggle with. Executive Function skills are life management skills that everyone needs in order to effectively plan, initiate and achieve daily goals. This helps you function better in many areas, such as:


While people with ADHD may struggle with Executive Function skills, they can learn how to sharpen their skills with time, tools and training. And when their Executive Function skills are better, they can be more internally or self-motivated. Here are a few ways you can help your child improve their Executive Function skills and become more motivated: 

  • Understand each task's importance — Explain to your child why studying or getting their chores done is an important task. Once they know why they need to do something, they may be more likely to do it. 


If, for example, your child struggles with keeping their room clean, explain to them that when their room’s tidy, it’s easier for them to find things and gives them more room to play with their toys. Knowing the “why” behind the task can increase their internal motivation to keep their room clean.

  • Set small goals — If your child has a big goal they’re trying to achieve, they may be completely overwhelmed. This can lead to procrastination because the task feels too big. Instead of focusing on one large goal, try breaking the task into smaller pieces that feel more manageable.


If your child has a big test they need to study for, consider breaking up the elements of that test into smaller, more achievable goals such as creating flashcards, rereading notes and working through practice problems. 

  • Keep it fun — Doing the same thing every single day can get boring, especially for a child with ADHD. To help your child stay engaged and on track, mix it up every once in a while. Help your child approach boring tasks in a new and interesting way to keep things fun.


Try turning boring tasks into games or competitions to keep your child motivated. You can also pair boring tasks with fun ones, such as folding laundry while watching a favorite show or listening to a fun podcast.

  • Celebrate achievements — Rewards are a great way to keep your child engaged in the task at hand. If they know there’s something fun waiting for them, they’re more likely to complete the task in a timely manner.


Try motivating your child with a small reward like a special snack, social media time, or the promise of playing a favorite game or watching a TV show. This will give them something to look forward to when the task is done.

  • Get active — Physical activity can improve motivation for people with ADHD and is an excellent way to help your child stay focused on their tasks. Encourage your child to stay active so they don’t get bored and distracted.


Short activities like a quick walk or dancing to a favorite song can get their blood flowing, and the short break from their studies can refresh their focus when it’s time to hit the books again.

  • Get them involved — Your kid is more likely to be self-motivated if they get to be involved in planning out their routine and study schedule. The more they’re an active participant in choosing when and how to complete tasks, the easier it can be to get them to follow through on them.


Try planning out a routine or study schedule together. If you can get your kid to take ownership of these tasks, it can increase their motivation to accomplish them.

  • Use body doubling — Your child may struggle to complete tasks while alone. But if you’re willing to sit with them while they work, it can help them to stay on track. 


You don’t even have to be doing the same task as them. Try sitting on their bed while they clean their room, or set up your laptop next to them so you can pay bills while they do homework. Simply being in the room with them can help provide external motivation.

  • Understand their strengths — Some people work better in the morning; others are more efficient in the evening. Some people need quiet while others prefer white noise or music.


Work with your child to determine what environment is the most motivating for them. If they need to work at a certain time of day or in a specific room to be more efficient, help them set up a plan so they can take ownership of that.

  • Set a routine — While it’s important to switch things up sometimes so your child doesn’t get bored, routines keep kids on track. If you give your kid a framework for how and when to get their homework or chores done, it will help them not procrastinate as much.


Sit down with your child and work out a weekly schedule that will help them accomplish what they need to do. Depending on your child’s needs, you may stick to the same weekly schedule every week or change it around once in a while.

  • Be patient — Your child’s motivation may not improve right away, and that can be frustrating. But if you’re willing to walk alongside them, you can start to see improvements in their thinking and behavior.


Don’t let a bad day get you down. With time and training, you and your child can learn how to motivate them to succeed.

Motivation is a skill that will help your child in all areas of their life, but it’s also a skill that must be learned. Teaching a child with ADHD to be self-motivated can be a struggle, but you’re not alone. 

If you need help managing your child’s symptoms of ADHD, our coaches are here to help.

Contact our team today for motivation support.

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