How to Motivate Kids

Do you ever feel like you are talking to a brick wall? (I actually wrote a whole post on it once.) You ask your kids to do something, and they completely ignore you?  It happens to me all the time, and I’ll admit, I’m more than a little sick of it!  It’s time to remind myself how to motivate kids, because what I’m doing is just not working!

10+ Fun Ways to Motivate Kids {}

How to Motivate Kids!

During my training to be a teacher, I learned that there are four reasons why kids don’t do what they are asked:

  1. They don’t know what to do
  2. They don’t know how to do it
  3. Something is preventing them from doing it
  4. They don’t want to do it

So, when our kids aren’t responding to us as parents, we can use that reasoning to check ourselves.

Do your kids know what to do?

I’m learning that when I ask my kids to do something, I need to be sure I have their full attention. In our wonderful age of technology, kids have learned to tune into the TV, computer screen and music, and to tune out Mom and Dad.

  • When making a request, avoid calling out instructions from across the room.  Call your child to you or walk over to them.  (This is to avoid those fabulous parenting moments when you get angry with a child only to realize that they did not hear what you asked them to do.  It’s also to avoid the child’s excuse that they didn’t hear what you asked them to do!)
  • If the kids are using technology, ask them to pause it while you are talking.
  • Make eye contact!  Make sure that your child is looking at you when you talk to them.
  • Expect your child to answer you out loud.  Don’t walk away until your child has acknowledged that you asked him/her to do something, and has given you an answer.  (A head nod does not count!)
Do your kids know how to do it?

It seems silly, but are you asking your kids to do something that they don’t understand how to do correctly?  When my youngest kids were taking hours to clean their room and making no progress, I realized that they were overwhelmed.  They did not know how to undertake the job of cleaning their room on their own.  When I broke it down into small steps and taught them how to do it, they were successful.

How to Teach Children to Clean Their Rooms {} Tired of nagging kids to clean their rooms? Your kids might be overwhelmed and not know where to start. (Free Printable Reminder Cards)

How to Teach Kids to Clean Their Rooms

Is something keeping the kids from doing what you’ve asked?

Sometimes the kids don’t do what you asked because they can’t.  For example, you have asked them to vacuum their room, but they can’t find the vacuum.  Or maybe you’ve asked them to do their homework, but they can’t because they left it at school.

The frustrating thing is that kids don’t often tell you why they aren’t doing what you asked.  They just don’t do it, and you get more and more frustrated.

Before you get angry, it might be a good idea to ask in a calm voice why the kids have not done what you asked.  You might be surprised by the answer!

They don’t want to do it

And this is why you are reading this post!  What do you do when the kids are ignoring you because they simply don’t want to do what you are asking.  (This happens to me every single day with the same kid.)  I’ve rounded up some great ideas from One Creative Mommy and around the web.

10+ Fun Ways to Motivate Kids {}

10+ Tips for Motivating Kids

Mission Control Chore Chart from de Jong Dream House

Mission Control Morning Checklist from de Jong Dream House

Free Printable Super Kids Goal Chart {Help your kids keep track of the great things they do on the road to becoming Super Kids!}

Super Kids Goal Setting Chart

Goal Setting: Helping kids turn short-term goals into long-term habits {Free Printables}

Goal Setting:  Turning Short-Term Goals into Long-Term Habits

How to Motivate Kids: Toddler Chore Chart from My Name is Snickerdoodle

Flip Magnetic Chore Chart from My Name is Snickerdoodle  (Love this for toddlers)

How to Motivate Kids with Point Cards {A Year of Free Designs from} #printable #motivatekids

How to Motivate Kids with Point Cards 

Learn how to get kids to clean up with editable, printable Ten-Minute Tidy Charts! {} #cleaningtips #SharpieClearview #PMedia #ad

How to Get Kids to Clean Up

How to Motivate Kids: Accountability Binder from 30 Handmade Days

Accountability Binder from 30 Handmade Days

Setting Technology Limits for Kids -- Kids spending too much time gaming this summer? Help them choose other options by limiting their time with technology {Tips and Free Technology Token System Printables from} #activeparenting

Technology Token System

How to Motivate Kids--Tooth Brushing Chart from Spaceships and Laser Beams

Free Teeth Brushing Printable Chart from Spaceships and Laser Beams

You're Mighty Marvelous M&M Gift Tags {Perfect for gymnastics meets, the first or last game of the season, opening night of the school play, or any other time someone needs a pick me up!} Free Download from

Mighty Marvelous M&M Gift Tags (Because every kid needs to know that you think they are great!)

If what you are doing isn’t working, step back and try again!  Think about your specific child and what motivates him or her.  (It’s not always treats or toys.  Some kids are motivated by praise, some by hugs and high fives, and some by getting to spend extra time with Mom and Dad.)  Maybe you’re offering the wrong type of reward!  Keep trying until you find the right match for your child.

10 more ideas to love!

5 Ways to Motivate Kids Every Morning from Written Reality

How I Get My Kids to Clean Their Room from Living Well Spending Less

Teaching Kids About Money and Responsibility from A Bowl Full of Lemons

Reward and Consequence Jars from de Jong Dream House

Magnetic Chore Charts from Thrifty Crafty Girl

Do You Struggle with Your Children About Chores from Ottawa Mommy Club

Shine God’s Light Reward System from Captain Fussy Buckets

Kid-Made Responsibilities Chart from Girl Gone Mom

Kid’s Cleaning Kit and Printable Chart from Live Simply

And–if you’re feeling really guilty (like I am) for being frustrated with your kiddos, try this one:  Forgive Your Child–Extend Them Grace from What’s Up Fagans?

Thanks for stopping by today.  I hope you found some ideas that will work for your family.  I’d love to hear your ideas on motivating kids.  What works for you?  Please share your ideas in the comments!



  1. Thanks for including my chart, Heidi! I love the token system shown above.

  2. Awe! Thanks for linking to my article! I’m not sure how it relates to motivating kids! It’s more about the parents in that one. :) Great tips as always. You really love your rewards charts and check-lists! Such great resources here Heidi!

  3. Heidi I love all these ideas. Great options you shared with charts. I like your tip on making sure you get a response back from your kids after asking for help. I catch myself asking for help and the kids don’t always respond, I need to remember to slow down and wait for a response. Good tip! Thank you :)

  4. Awesome post! I just love all these ideas. Pinning.

  5. Great tips, that I think apply to teens as well! I will have to do better as a mom now…. (no excuses, you know!!) Have a wonderful Thursday!! :)
    xox, Crystelle

  6. My problem is motivating them to do their homework without stressing out. Any tips for that? These other ones are great!

    • Do you mean that the kids are stressing out about the homework, or that you are? When it comes to homework, I’d suggest having a routine after school, so that the kids know when they are expected to work and when they will get to play. It probably depends on the child whether they need a snack break or an unwinding time before they get started. If it’s an older child, try checking out my post on using a planner. Sometimes dividing big projects into smaller chunks is helpful. How to Use a School Planner

  7. Great tips. It does sometimes take a lot to motivate them but it is really worth it in the long run! Thanks!

  8. Thank you! It is like you are in my head, my 4 year old is soooo hard to motivate. I can’t wait to try some of these ideas!

  9. Great tips! I’ve learned to be very specific about what I ask. Some of my kids don’t think about what I’m saying and get a little stuck when doing something. And of course, don’t tell me.

    I’m sure I’ll be taking advantage of the charts this fall with my youngest son. He’s not happy about going to Kindergarten. A little bribery, ahem reward system may be his motivating factor. ;)

  10. I am going to try your tips because I am tired of yelling but that seems like the only way my daughter will listen!

    • I know exactly what you mean, Heather. I started pointing out to my daughter that she is telling me that she wants me to yell. When she doesn’t answer when I ask nicely, but she does answer when I yell, she teaches me that she wants me to yell. She thought that was pretty interesting.

  11. Great tips and something I need to work on with my kids. Thank you for linking up with Family Fun Friday and don’t forget to grab your “I was featured” badge!

  12. Such good advice – I think I might have to print those four things out and stick them on the fridge as a reminder!

  13. You always have the greatest insight and tips into how to accomplish things, thanks!

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