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How can I motivate my son to work hard?

Q: My 9 years old son is a slow learner. Since he was about 6 months old, we realised that his development was slow. It takes him extra time and practice to learn any skill (physical, social and academics). We have done all available tests and therapies but nothing helped. He is developing on his own pace. I spend a lot of time with him in all areas to help him develop. He wears glasses for astigmatism and also went through 10 weeks of vision therapy to improve focus and eye coordination. I feel he could improve in all areas if he could concentrate and had more motivation. If he is left alone he is happy to muck around at home and avoids doing any schoolwork or physical activity. He wants help for all his daily activities, like turning the shower on, taking his clothes to wear, figuring out the time, etc. He is not comfortable with reading time, labels, brochures, counting and money, etc. Because of this, all the tasks are extra hard for him so he avoids doing it and asks others to do it for him. I want him to put extra effort to establish the basic skills of reading, calculations and so on but it is a constant battle. I believe if he works consistently in all areas he will be fine. I am confused whether to let him do things his own way or battle with him everyday to practice his basic skills? Please suggest.

A:Your last sentence explains your dilemma, but it also shows that you feel you are "battling with him everyday" to practise his basic skills.

You are not on opposite sides. You are on his side. So there is no "battle". Instead of focussing on what he cannot do, you might try seeing what he can do well. I am not clear what "mucking around" actually means. If he likes to draw, paint or work with clay, give him the materials for it. If he likes music, movement and dancing, let him have time for them. Once he gets a sense of mastery over something, he may be more willing and confident to try out new things.

Make little games of daily living activities and create a visible reward system, like a bulletin board on which you will put a silver or gold star when he completes a task. Instead of going to the school books for number concepts, let him use household articles, vegetables, fruits, biscuits and so on for counting, so that the idea of number is linked to concrete and tangible experience.

You would probably find his school-teachers able to give you tips on what to do. If you take off the pressure on him to achieve a specific goal, he may relax and get there. But the belief that "if he works consistently in all areas, he will be fine as an adult" reflects a parent's hope. With a great deal of patience and the right methods, you could be proved right. But you must go step by step.

Use sources other than this site, preferably a Counsellor you can meet face to face.


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