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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Motivation for Students

Today I'm sharing a column written by a colleague who does wonders helping people work through anxiety - be it the math test or the difficult boss.

Dear Dr. Nikki,

My daughter has begun to lose her motivation for school.  Aside from her lack of interest, she finds it difficult to concentrate. Do you have any suggestions for both of these problems?

Motivated Mom

Dear Motivated,

What motivates one person will not necessarily motivate another. One may fear the consequences of not doing well while another may look forward to the rewards they get when they shine. The external prize, such as money or a gift for good grades may light a fire under your daughter or she may seek the internal satisfaction instead. The trick is in finding the key that starts her engine.

There’s a famous radio station with the call letters, WII-FM. These letters stand for ‘what’s in it for me’. There is always something of value in everything we do or we wouldn’t do it. What is the value for her in getting her work done? If there’s no pleasure in the actual work, perhaps she can tell herself the sooner she gets it done, the sooner she can get on to fun things. Help her explore past times when motivation came naturally. If she was swept up in the excitement of the newness, she’ll need to find something she can count on more consistently.

Habits go a long way to helping accomplish things. Chances are she doesn’t need motivation to brush her teeth each day. (Teens' discovery of their attraction to the
opposite sex does have its merits!) The habit puts her on automatic pilot. She does it
without thinking about it and without conscious effort. Try this with homework. Set
aside a particular time of day and teach her to habituate to it.  We all have things in life we wish we didn’t have to do. Why are some able to get through the unpleasantness easily while others procrastinate and sink into apathy and become ineffective? Research shows that successful people project into the future and imagine what it will be like when the task is finished. This keeps their enthusiasm going until they can get on to more joyful times. Explain this to your daughter and ask her to try it.

To improve concentration, try this simple trick. Have her play Baroque music softly in the background while she studies. Research shows these compositions create a unique and interesting physiological response in people. It slows the heartbeat to 60 beats per minute and slows the brain waves down too. More of the whole brain is engaged. The result…less distraction and a stronger focus of attention.

Nikki Goldman Ph.D. welcome comments 858-335-9867. Or email She uses hypnotherapy on children and adults to improve self-esteem, study habits, test anxiety and more.

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