Posts Categorized: Julie Cole

How to motivate an unmotivated kid.

Big brother helping little sister with homework.

I’ve always been fascinated by what makes some people super motivated, and others, not so much. I found this particularly interesting when I saw differences in motivation between my children.

Why do I have two kids who are equally clever, yet one is disappointed with a certain mark or grade in school, while the other thinks it is more than acceptable?

A few weeks ago I spent an evening holding a gun to one kid’s head forcing him to prepare for a math test taking place the next day. No gun to head, no study. Across the room was the other child busily typing on her laptop. When I asked what she was working on, the response was “I have a science test in two weeks so I’m just putting together my study notes to get a jump on things.”

Two kids – born only fifteen months apart with the same parents, same home environment, same encouragement, same role modeling, and yet so different. Why?

With no answer to that question, frustration was mounting. When you have a smart kid not working to potential, it’s enough to make any parent get twitchy. I usually rely on natural consequences – don’t study, then you fail. Better luck next time. Problem is – with this kid, doing badly doesn’t bother him too much. Not exactly what I’m looking for in a consequence.

I happen to be lucky enough to be pals with psychologist and parenting author, Alyson Schafer. She gave me a few quick tips that I’ve put into practice – and my kid and I are not as frustrated with each other.

Tip #1: Teach him the EFFORT IS NOT STUPIDITY. This is big. Whenever he actually had to TRY at something, he liked to default to “Oh well, I guess I just suck at this”. That’s a pretty easy out, so we’ve had lots of conversations trying to turn this way of thinking around.

Tip #2: Don’t dictate when he’s going to study, but task him to. Every Sunday he creates his own study plan for the week. No longer is it me nagging him to study, it’s him having to be accountable to his OWN plan.

Tip #3: Don’t argue when he thinks what he’s studying is useless. He’s likely right. Have the open conversation that there are bits of the curriculum that are outdated or won’t be relevant to him. Get on his side, but remember to teach that getting through this is all just a step to be able to have choices when it comes to post-secondary education and a career.

Do your kids have different motivation levels? How do you manage your expectations around the effort they do or don’t put into school or activities?

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

Sleepaway camp: The best way to decide if your kids are ready.

Photo taken by jvlphoto.com

I’m no stranger to sending kids to sleep away camp. My “biggie” kids have been going for several years  and the benefits are countless.

This year, I have a new crop of kids who are great ages for sleep away camp, so for the first time in a few years, I found myself revisiting the age old question of “ARE THEY READY?” Of course, I’m not sure I’m ready, but as a wise Camp Director once told me, “Sorry Julie, this isn’t about YOU!”  Fine thing.

After setting my personal anxieties aside, I looked at my two little darlings and asked myself the following:

Do they want to go to camp?  If they want to go, it’s a pretty good indication that they’re ready. Of course, kids can be indecisive – one minute they want to go and another minute they don’t. When they say they don’t want to go, it’s likely that they’re worried about homesickness. So, I remind my kids that it’s completely normal and they likely will be homesick at some point. But it usually passes and doesn’t interfere with the overall camp experience. Besides, camp staff are trained to deal with this issue. A homesick kid is the biggest and most common issue they deal with.

As the parent, our job is to consider how severe the homesickness will be. So when trying to determine whether they’re ready or not, you can ask yourself these questions:

  • When at home, does your kid stay in their own bed every night? If you wake up every morning having discovered a little visitor migrated into your bed during the night, the kiddo might not quite be ready
  • Does your child feel comfortable having a sleepover with extended family or close friends? If they’d rather be glued to you than have a fun sleepover at Grandma’s house, this could be a sign that the kiddo is not ready for camp
  • Can you get a little friend to go too?  My kids like going to camp with siblings, but kids are put in cabins according to age so siblings don’t usually get to stay together. A familiar friend from home or school can sometimes help a kiddo feel more comfortable.
  • Have your kiddos had the chance to see camp for themselves?  My two kids that are up for camp consideration this summer have been able to visit their siblings at camp, which has familiarized them with the camp setting. This can be helpful.

 

After putting kids #4 and #5 through this little test, these were the results:

Photo taken by jvlphoto.com

YES, this kid is ready camp! She’s signed up and ready to go!

Photo taken by jvlphoto.com

Sorry buddy, maybe next year!

How do you decide if your little ones are ready for this experience? Do you have anyone heading off to sleep-away camp this season?

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

 

Spring Happenings!

It has been a long, harsh winter in these parts. Although, there are a few signs that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s how I know that spring is near or almost here:

1) Spring Fling
We welcome spring with our annual Irish Dancing performances. My kids don’t do competitive dancing and have no dreams of making it to the World Championships in Dublin. They don’t wear wigs or tan their legs. I put their hair in rags to get curls and off they go to tour countless Seniors Homes to help our elderly community celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The best part? After they dance, the children chat with the residents. Even the shy children are encouraged to give it a try. They learn so much from speaking with the elderly, who are so delighted to have a close look at the beautiful costumes and happy young faces.

 

2) Spring Sap
The tapping of the trees. We are lucky enough to have a ravine full of trees in our backyard. Daddy-o and the children go off and tap the trees, collect the sap, boil it down, leaving us with the most delicious maple syrup. I now have a houseful of syrup snobs who now turn their noses up at the store bought stuff.

3) Spring has sprung – literally.
This year we are adding something special to our yard. Over the years, we have gone through, destroyed and bounced to death SEVERAL trampolines. I have been on a hunt for one that is big enough, strong enough and bouncy enough to deal with my six children, and the countless friends and neighbourhood kids who put it to the test. My search ended with the Jumbo Square Springfree trampoline. The more research I did, the more I realized that if I had bought this one originally, I would have saved myself from buying, setting up and destroying the four other trampolines we’ve ripped through.

Has spring arrived where you are? What cheery spring happenings are going on in your family?

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

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