The Method and Discipline to Motivate Children

Last week we quoted Dorothy Rich, author of MegaSkills©: Building Our Children’s Character and Achievement for School and Life about motivating children to succeed in school and beyond. Today we list some activities the author suggests using to teach children about time and to help them listen better.

The author explains that before children do things, children tend to ask two questions over and over:
1. How long will it take?
2. What was that I was supposed to do, again?
The following activities for young children can help answer these questions.
TIME ME (Ages 4 to 6)
This activity will help children better understand the difference between “a few seconds” and “a few minutes.” You will need a clock or watch with a second hand.
Ask the child to watch the second hand for five seconds. Together count off the seconds. Put this into action, Time it again and see how many times the child can clap in five seconds. Now have the child watch the clock for one minute. Then time it again and see how fare you can both clap in one minute. Together read a book for five minutes. Time yourselves. How many pages did you read? Hold your breath for five seconds. Le the child time you. Then trade places. Time yourselves as you both say the alphabet aloud. Together time a traffic light as you stand at a street corner. Time two television commercials. How long does it take each one?

As you see, there are many ways to help children get a feel for time. Even as adults we often have trouble knowing how long thirty seconds is. A better sens of time helps us anticipate how much we can accomplish in a day.

TELL ME (Ages 4 to 9)

Teachers in the early grades tell us that children have trouble listening. Perhaps it’s because they have been bombarded by so much coming at them all at once on television. Here is an easy activity that can help cut through the multimedia, noisy environment. For this activity all you need are listening ears.
Think of a real job at home that the child can do. It might be setting a table, taking out the garbage, bringing in the newspaper, hanging up clothes, Think of three or four instructions for the job. Ask the child to listen carefully as you say them. For example, “Take out four forks, four knives, and four spoons. Put these on the table in four place settings. Put the fork on the left, the knife and spoon on the right.”
Let the child give you instructions to follow. They can be as easy or as complicated as you and the child want. In this way, you individualize this activity to suit the child.
By adding pencil and paper, you can turn this into a “write and to” activity. Write down instructions instead of talking about them. Have the child write a set of directions for you to follow.
Hide something and give instructions on how to find it. For example, “Take two steps forward, turn right, take three steps back.” Trade places and let your child hide something for you to find. As a special treat, organize an outdoor treasure hunt. Prepare a short list of items, such as a small stone, a branch, a green or red leaf. Give youngsters a paper bag for the collection. Turn this into a game by timing the minutes it takes to find the objects. Use this when you go shopping. At the story, the child can help you find the family’s grocery items.
Be sure to visit Dorothy Rich’s great web site with great books and resources for working with children by clicking here.
Do you have trouble getting your charges to listen to directions or get chores or school work accomplished in a timely manner?


  1. I use the kitchen timer as a fun way for us to get things done. Let's see how fast you can clean up the Polly Pockets or how fast can you get undressed and into the bath? Fun, Deborah Cherry Hill NJ

  2. The children love when I tell them stories about what I happened to me: the first time I went to school for example. They also love making games for getting stuff done too.Super info.Meghan Maryland

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