MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHILST TRYING TO MOTIVATE

Sad on Couch

People often find themselves in major trouble by not doing what they need to, be it an addiction, crime or neglecting to perform useful behaviours like exercise or studying. The most commonly used strategy to fix this is to tell the child what to do and why. This has been demonstrated, beyond any reasonable doubt, to be horribly ineffective - it usually has the OPPOSITE of the desired effect.

Most parents and educators learn this very quickly and resort to bribery and punishment to motivate studying. This can work reliably, but only in the short term. Incentives must either be provided continuously, or the desired behaviour actually becomes less likely than if you had never incentivised them to begin with. Punishment inspires rebellion and dishonesty, and the desired behaviour becomes unenjoyable for the child. Children who are treated this way often do well while at home but crash and burn as soon as they leave. 

Luckilly, there's a well-established science of behaviour change you can use to help your child without relying on carrots or sticks. Motivational Interviewing is the go-to technique for professionals trying to motivate people. and the topic of this blog post. Everything written below is based solely on systematic reviews, the highest tier of evidence in science.

MOTIVATIONAL INTERVIEWING

A step by step guide

BUILD RAPPORT AND COMFORT

It's essential that the student is comfortable being honest with you for this to work. If this isn't the case, it's likely faster to hire outside help.

EVOKE TALK OF CHANGE

Step 1: Speak in a way that makes them more likely say things that are supportive of change. For example, ask them what the best thing would be about achieving their target grade.

EVOKE TALK OF SELF-CONFIDENCE

Speak in a way that maximises their belief that change is possible. For example, ask them about times they've succesfully changed in the past.

EVOKE TALK OF SELF-CONFIDENCE

Step 3: Once the client appears motivated to make a change, summarise what they've said and agree upon a shared goal. Don't negotiate firmly, but do gently nudge them towards something productive

SET A SHARED GOAL

Step 3: Once the client appears motivated to make a change, summarise what they've said and agree upon a shared goal. Don't negotiate firmly, but do gently nudge them towards something productive

FORM A PLAN

Step 4: Help them form a plan. Desperately avoid telling them what to do, but rather ask questions which facilitate them coming to a sensible plan by themselves. If you have to guide them, present them as many options as possible on how to proceed as this makes it more likely that they will adhere to the plan.

HELP THEM STICK TO IT

Step 5: help them troubleshoot difficulties they have while following the plan, and regularly remotivate them as you did in steps 1 and 2.

AVOID THE THREE BIGGEST MISTAKES

- Don't offer advice without asking their permission first
- Don't voice disagreement. Instead, get them to give counterarguements or simply move on.
- Avoid taking on the persona of an 'expert'. Instead, aim for the persona of an assistant or coach.

REAP THE BENEFITS

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