Home › Facebook Group › General Discussion Board › How can I motivate my four-year-old to focus for her gifted and talented test? › Reply To: How can I motivate my four-year-old to focus for her gifted and talented test?
Thank you so much for posting this question, as I think it’s a common parent ‘angst’. I know wanting my son to be more ‘motivated’ is something with which I struggle.
What we know about the brain is that in order for humans to think well and to learn, we need to feel SAFE and CONNECTED. This is particularly true for children. Nothing shuts down the brain faster than anxiety/fear. Encouraging someone to try harder or stay more focused is a bit like telling someone who is drowning to save themselves. They can’t!
And in fact, Amy, the harder we try, the more tight and tense we are, the more tight and scared our kiddo’s nervous system gets, and often the less they are able to enjoy and learn.
So, the first step is for us to take all of OUR feelings to a Listening Partner. If you don’t have one yet, there a lots of parents in this Parenting Club who are eager to exchange listening time. What a listening exchange will do for you is give you the opportunity to offload all of your tension and fears. Your partner is going to hold the thought that YOU are GOOD, your daughter is good and that YOU WILL FIGURE THIS OUT, while you rant and rave about how frustrating this is, maybe how scared you are that she’s not going to do well, is not going to be accepted. It would be good, too for you to explore your own feelings around achievement. Were you pushed by your parents or teachers? Did you wish you had been pushed? Was your talent overlooked? How was school for you?
We want to get to the place where, whatever happens, we know we are all going to be OK. That nothing is more important than your daughter is happy and knows she is loved, no matter how she does or what school she goes to. When you can get to that relaxed place, she may shift.
Because, right now, Amy, it’s possible that the situation and the incentives have made your daughter’s nervous system feel like your attention and your approval is very, very CONDITIONAL. Again, children can only think well when they feel safe and unconditionally connected.
When you are relaxed, you can step back and work on putting lots of safety and connection into your relationship and your day. People do not do well on tests when they feel anxious and scared. If you do lots of SPECIAL TIME in small doses and lots of Rough’n’Tumble Play where you take the less powerful role, you will be countering her feelings of powelessness, anxiety and fear. Get lots of laughter going in your day. LAUGHTER is sooo connecting and it is also offloading light fear.
Also if you are relaxed and you SET A LIMIT with no bribes or incentives, there is a good change that feelings will bubble up in the form of a tantrum. That’s a very good thing! Remember that fear is gunking up her nervous system and making it very difficult for her to focus or process. Offloading those feelings, will give her more access to her natural intelligence. So, you could come in close, BRINGING the Limit to her as you say, “sweetie, we are going to work for 15 minutes. I’ll be right here with you.” Whatever comes up and out of her mouth, you don’t argue or try to reason (she is not in her thinking brain and does not have access to language) So you simply STAYLISTEN to her upset, trusting that after she offloads, she may be able to think better.
Here are some examples of how this can work:
I hope some of that makes sense (: To recap:
1. Reluctance, giving up and negative self-talk is caused by FEAR
2. Our tightness and frustration only serves to ADD to their Fear, making them feel powerless
3. We have to get LISTENING TIME so that we can be relaxed and unconditionally connected and loving.
4. Lots of Special Time, and Roughhousing helps children to feel safe, connected and more confident.
5. When we are relaxed we can BRING a limit and STAYLISTEN to their feelings.
Connection, our warm attention, play and listening to feelings all help a child’s mind to function better. We have to feel safe in order to think.
You are such an awesome loving Mama, Amy and you really want the best for your sweet girl. Try some of these ideas out and let us know how it goes.
Peace & Smiles,
Hand in Hand Certified Instructor
Conscious Child-raising Creating Cooperation and Peace
Follow me on facebook: Parenting by Connection with Kathy
“If we are to teach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children” – Gandhi