My son was very motivated to purchase his own computer. He had saved up close to $1000 by the time he was 11 and purchased it. You better believe he was always asking for extra chores to do in order to make money the year and a bit that preceded that purchase. He was one motivated kid!

Now that same kid who was highly motivated to work is sitting at said computer while a messy room surrounds him and homework is left to the last minute. If I allowed him to my boy would spend the next several decades doing nothing but staring at that screen - stopping only briefly for food and sleep. To me it's a total waste of time that could be used so much more practically. Lack of motivation defined! Or is it?

That kid is far from unmotivated. He's highly motivated! He's motivated to play on his computer!

We all know it's easier to steer an already moving object in a different direction than it is to put a stationary object into motion. So rather than view our "unmotivated child" as a stationary object lets look at what the child is motivated to do and use those things to gently steer them towards other tasks.

I had a chat with my son yesterday about his favourite computer game. At first he got a little defensive. He felt a confrontation coming on - the usual "Do you want your brain to turn to mush?" speech. I assured him I was genuinely interested in why his favourite game was so appealing to him.

The first thing out of his mouth was the word "freedom!" The next was "imagination" and after that - "adventure". I can't fault him for loving any of those things. In fact, I encourage them! We went on to talk about how he likes having control of things and situations in the game. He knows he can succeed and excel. It makes him feel good to reach new levels. He also loves the feeling of (in his words) "saving the world several hundred times"! Last but not least - there was the community aspect. He has a group of friends that play together and chat through cyberspace as they play.

Wow! Did I find out a lot about what internally motivates my son in that brief conversation. Now my job is to find ways to incorporate those motivators into other tasks.

· Control - Control is a HUGE factor when motivating kids! My son's desire for control means I should give him choices of when and how a task is done. It doesn't have to be done my way. When offering advice of a more efficient way to do something I preface it with, "Can I make a suggestion?" That way he gets to decide if he even wants to hear from me - or if he feels like how he's doing it is working for him.

· Success - He likes knowing he will succeed. If my son needs to know he can be successful at something before he wants to take it on I can help break down the task into easy steps to success for him.

· Community - The community of friends he's built in his online game draws him there too. Obviously that means he's motivated and energized by being with others. Doing a job with him rather than sending him to do it by himself will be another key in how to motivate this kid.

· Freedom, Adventure, Imagination - The fact that he is motivated by "freedom" means a reward of free time once a task is complete will be motivating. Adventure and imagination - these sound like motivating rewards too! A trip to his favourite park, beach or the science center as a reward for a job well done will motivate him.

· Philanthropy - He said he loves "saving the world" in his game. If it makes him feel good to pretend to save the world - how much more would he feel helping out a real life cause? He and I would both feel better if he were to get behind a cause and spend time involved in charitable work rather than in front of a screen!

If you want to know how to motivate kids - have a talk with your child like I had with mine yesterday! I promise you'll find out new ways to motivate your child if you take a few moments to ask what they like about their favourite activities and incorporate those same motivators into other less desirable tasks.

Author's Bio: 

Susan L. Paterson invites you to visit her website If you wish parenting were simpler you'll love her blog. For more on how to motivate kids download her eBook "How to Motivate Kids - No Nagging Required!"