Motivating Unmotivated Students: Avoiding the 5 Stages of Parental Grief

Motivating Unmotivated Students: Avoiding the 5 Stages of Parental Grief

Motivating Unmotivated Students: Avoiding the 5 Stages of Parental Grief

An unmotivated child can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for their parents.

“My kid doesn’t want to study”
“She has no interest in the subject”
“He just hates math”

I’ve heard it all countless times. About a year ago, a mum called me at her wits end because her year 8 son just wouldn’t respond to any of her attempts to get him motivated and working. In such cases, parents often go through their own version of the five stages of grief. First she convinced herself “it’s just how kids are” (denial). Once the gravity of his poor performance really sunk in, she tried to light a fire under him with heavy praise and rewards (bargaining) and firm discipline (anger). By the time she felt the depression of yet another barely passed examination, she was about ready to give up (acceptance).

It doesn’t have to be this way. EVERY student WANTS to succeed. I believe that to my core. The problem is that either something is holding them back, or they lack the intrinsic self-belief and motivation to succeed. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a closer look at the situation your kids often find themselves in…

An unmotivated child can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for their parents.

“My kid doesn’t want to study”

“She has no interest in the subject”

“He just hates math”

I’ve heard it all countless times. About a year ago, a mum called me at her wits end because her year 8 son just wouldn’t respond to any of her attempts to get him motivated and working. In such cases, parents often go through their own version of the five stages of grief. First she convinced herself “it’s just how kids are” (denial). Once the gravity of his poor performance really sunk in, she tried to light a fire under him with heavy praise and rewards (bargaining) and firm discipline (anger). By the time she felt the depression of yet another barely passed examination, she was about ready to give up (acceptance).

It doesn’t have to be this way. EVERY student WANTS to succeed. I believe that to my core. The problem is that either something is holding them back, or they lack the intrinsic self-belief and motivation to succeed. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a closer look at the situation your kids often find themselves in…

Unmotivated students

They’re Bored or Disinterested

Students need to build a sense of competence and confidence

Confidence & Self-Esteem

Bored or disengaged students

They’re Getting Distracted

Students can't get the attention they need

They Need Better Attention

Students who find a subject too easy or difficult are understandably likely to lose interest. Alternatively, they might lack motivation because they can’t steer their own learning experience, move at their pace, or work in a way they find engaging. Think about your experiences in lectures, or other big group sessions. How engaged were you compared to your one-on-one learning experiences?

Confidence, self-esteem, and success are linked. When a student doesn’t feel successful about a subject or topic, they’re more likely to disengage and less willing to put more time into it. Unmotivated students need support in overcoming setbacks, celebrating wins, and feeling a strong sense of competence. That can be difficult when there are so many kids competing for one teacher’s attention.

It’s easy to get distracted in a big group setting, especially for unmotivated students. There’s less accountability, you’re less likely to get noticed, and you’re not being spoken to directly. That doesn’t even factor in the distraction of phones or friends in the classroom.

Teachers do a fantastic job, but they have to manage dozens of students at once. Its impossible to move at a pace that works for everyone, answer everyone’s questions, and make sure everyone’s keeping up. The result is that some students don’t keep up, don’t feel  successful, and don’t stay interested.

Unmotivated students

They’re Bored or Disinterested

Students who find a subject too easy or difficult are understandably likely to lose interest. Alternatively, they might lack motivation because they can’t steer their own learning experience, move at their pace, or work in a way they find engaging. Think about your experiences in lectures, or other big group sessions. How engaged were you compared to your one-on-one learning experiences?

Students need to build a sense of competence and confidence

Confidence & Self-Esteem

Confidence, self-esteem, and success are linked. When a student doesn’t feel successful about a subject or topic, they’re more likely to disengage and less willing to put more time into it. Unmotivated students need support in overcoming setbacks, celebrating wins, and feeling a strong sense of competence. That can be difficult when there are so many kids competing for one teacher’s attention.

Bored or disengaged students

They’re Getting Distracted

It’s easy to get distracted in a big group setting, especially for unmotivated students. There’s less accountability, you’re less likely to get noticed, and you’re not being spoken to directly. That doesn’t even factor in the distraction of phones or friends in the classroom.

Students can't get the attention they need

They Need Closer Attention

Teachers do a fantastic job, but they have to manage dozens of students at once. Its impossible to move at a pace that works for everyone, answer everyone’s questions, and make sure everyone’s keeping up. The result is that some students don’t keep up, don’t feel  successful, and don’t stay interested.

What Can Parents Do To Help Their Child's Motivation?

What Can Parents Do To Help Their Child's Motivation?

Provide Choice.

Some students jump at the opportunity to control their learning experience. Let your child choose what they focus on first, how to get through a task, which practice essays to try, or which questions to answer. Also, allowing them to choose their goals instead of setting your own can make a huge difference, especially if you can find a way to link their schoolwork to the goals or dreams they have. These are goldmines for building intrinsic motivation, and intrinsic motivation is the key to progress for any motivated or unmotivated student.

Provide Choice.

Some students jump at the opportunity to control their learning experience. Let your child choose what they focus on first, how to get through a task, which practice essays to try, or which questions to answer. Also, allowing them to choose their goals instead of setting your own can make a huge difference, especially if you can find a way to link their schoolwork to the goals or dreams they have. These are goldmines for building intrinsic motivation, and intrinsic motivation is the key to progress for any motivated or unmotivated student.

Set Clear Goals & Expectations.

Daily, weekly, and yearly goals provide clear targets so students always know what they’re trying to achieve, why, and how each task they’re given helps get them there.  This is a great opportunity to give your child that sense of choice and control I mentioned above. Ensure that their goals are written down, measurable, and physically within reach. You should also ensure any expectations you have are clearly outlined. 

Set Clear Goals & Expectations.

Daily, weekly, and yearly goals provide clear targets so students always know what they’re trying to achieve, why, and how each task they’re given helps get them there.  This is a great opportunity to give your child that sense of choice and control I mentioned above. Ensure that their goals are written down, measurable, and physically within reach. You should also ensure any expectations you have are clearly outlined. 

Embrace Routine.

Encourage your child to build some routine into the way they study. Start and finish the same way. Listen to the same music. Set consistent time limits. You don’t have to make everything the same (for example, a change of scenery can help), but making the process predictable makes it less likely they’ll get distracted or stuck. It will also help them to transition into study-mode more seamlessly. 

Embrace Routine.

Encourage your child to build some routine into the way they study. Start and finish the same way. Listen to the same music. Set consistent time limits. You don’t have to make everything the same (for example, a change of scenery can help), but making the process predictable makes it less likely they’ll get distracted or stuck. It will also help them to transition into study-mode more seamlessly. 

Build a Sense of Competence & Self Esteem.

Students who feel successful and competent have higher self-esteem, which results in higher performance. That in turn results in even higher self-esteem, and so the cycle continues. The earlier you can help them to feel competent, the better. Praise and celebrate their early wins, but be careful not to overdo it. Giving them praise that’s vague, over-excited or undeserved might be well intentioned but won’t feel sincere or valuable. Rather, provide feedback calmly, ensuring that it’s accurate, specific, honest, and constructive. Statements like “I like that sentence”, “This paragraph is insightful”, and “That’s a clever idea” are great precursors to get a bigger conversation started and will plant the subtle seeds of pride.

Some might struggle with this if there don’t seem to be any wins to celebrate. If that’s the case, try to start them on an easier task or bit of homework. Ensure that you correct any mistakes without criticising and focus on praising progress or effort rather than on the final result. Statements like “Your practice has been paying off” will help here. They’ll start to feel competent and accomplished, and then you can gradually move onto the harder stuff.

Build a Sense of Competence & Self Esteem.

Students who feel successful and competent have higher self-esteem, which results in higher performance. That in turn results in even higher self-esteem, and so the cycle continues. The earlier you can help them to feel competent, the better. Praise and celebrate their early wins, but be careful not to overdo it. Giving them praise that’s vague, over-excited or undeserved might be well intentioned but won’t feel sincere or valuable. Rather, provide feedback calmly, ensuring that it’s accurate, specific, honest, and constructive. Statements like “I like that sentence”, “This paragraph is insightful”, and “That’s a clever idea” are great precursors to get a bigger conversation started and will plant the subtle seeds of pride.

Some might struggle with this if there don’t seem to be any wins to celebrate. If that’s the case, try to start them on an easier task or bit of homework. Ensure that you correct any mistakes without criticising and focus on praising progress or effort rather than on the final result. Statements like “Your practice has been paying off” will help here. They’ll start to feel competent and accomplished, and then you can gradually move onto the harder stuff.

Everyone’s a Leader.

Particularly if you have younger children, try to give your son or daughter a chance to be in charge and teach others. Kids love these kinds of opportunities. Try organising a regular study group where each child is in charge of teaching the rest a topic. This can work for older kids too. Being responsible for teaching somebody else is a great way to build accountability and motivate studying.

Everyone’s a Leader.

Particularly if you have younger children, try to give your son or daughter a chance to be in charge and teach others. Kids love these kinds of opportunities. Try organising a regular study group where each child is in charge of teaching the rest a topic. This can work for older kids too. Being responsible for teaching somebody else is a great way to build accountability and motivate studying.

Talk to Them.

I don’t mean about their work. Just talk. Understand them a little better. If you can do that, you have a better chance of pinpointing the goals that motivate them and the challenges that are holding them back. You’d be amazed how much more I’ve been able to understand and help my students by making sure that I take a couple of minutes before each lesson to just talk.

Talk to Them.

I don’t mean about their work. Just talk. Understand them a little better. If you can do that, you have a better chance of pinpointing the goals that motivate them and the challenges that are holding them back. You’d be amazed how much more I’ve been able to understand and help my students by making sure that I take a couple of minutes before each lesson to just talk.

Find the Inspiration.

Students are more likely to strive for success when they see for themselves what it looks like, and what it enables. Share your triumphs and how you were able to achieve them. Find what is inspirational about their teachers. Seek out mentors who have enjoyed success by achieving something great, receiving a prestigious award, running a business, or achieving something your child values.

Find the Inspiration.

Students are more likely to strive for success when they see for themselves what it looks like, and what it enables. Share your triumphs and how you were able to achieve them. Find what is inspirational about their teachers. Seek out mentors who have enjoyed success by achieving something great, receiving a prestigious award, running a business, or achieving something your child values.

and finally...


Bring In Some Help!

Study Sphere have a long history of helping unmotivated students, whether they be high achievers who don’t feel challenged, or students who are having trouble keeping up. We can help students reach their potential because our lessons are one-on-one and personalised. Each student that we work with has 100% of our attention. That enables us to leverage their strengths, put the due work into their challenges, and better meet their unique learning needs.

Study Sphere is offering FREE first lessons, so you can try us out for yourself without having to pay a cent! To claim your lesson, contact us using the information below. Or, if you’d like to learn more about us first, please explore our website. Check out our home page, see feedback from our clients, or learn more about how we can help you.

and finally...


Bring In Some Help!

Study Sphere have a long history of helping unmotivated students, whether they be high achievers who don’t feel challenged, or students who are having trouble keeping up. We can help students reach their potential because our lessons are one-on-one and personalised. Each student that we work with has 100% of our attention. That enables us to leverage their strengths, put the due work into their challenges, and better meet their unique learning needs.

Study Sphere is offering FREE first lessons, so you can try us out for yourself without having to pay a cent! To claim your lesson, contact us using the information below. Or, if you’d like to learn more about us first, please explore our website. Check out our home page, see feedback from our clients, or learn more about how we can help you.

Study Sphere is offering a FREE one-on-one lesson with one of our hand-picked tutors! If you’d like to claim yours, contact us.

We have worked extensively with unmotivated students who don’t show the passion or focus needed to reach their full potential. We’ve seen our approach work wonders for years, and we want to give you a chance to see it too. Claim a free, no-obligation lesson now!

Email: studyspheretuition@gmail.com
Phone: 0410 251 988