PSLE, the Carrot, and the Stick

How can you motivate your child to learn independently, and to be happy about their learning? We’re sure that as a parent, this is a big concern when it comes to preparing your child for the PSLE.
How can you motivate your child to learn independently, and to be happy about their learning?

We’re sure that as a par­ent, this is a big con­cern when it comes to prepar­ing your child for the PSLE. While you do not want to strain your rela­tion­ship with your child, it is also impor­tant that your child does well for the all impor­tant PSLE in order to get into a good school of their choice.

Under­stand­ing this con­cern that you have, we’ve decid­ed to ded­i­cate this blog­post to help par­ents dis­cov­er bet­ter ways in moti­vat­ing their chil­dren to learn and excel at their stud­ies.

We’re sure that as par­ents, we’ve all heard of the car­rot and stick approach. But how effec­tive is this approach real­ly? And how do we exe­cute it in such a way that it aids insead of hin­ders our child’s growth?

The Carrot

What kind of car­rot should you use to moti­vate your child? The car­rot can vary from mon­ey and toys to praise, recog­ni­tion and appre­ci­a­tion. Regard­less of the car­rot you choose to dan­gle, it is impor­tant to also explain the ratio­nale behind the reward. For exam­ple, you can say ‘ Child, Mum­my and Dad­dy wish that you can do your best and do well in this test. If you do well, we will reward you with your favourite toy. Even if you don’t do well, Mum­my and Dad­dy will always love you if you have tried your best for the test.’ Say­ing this reaf­firms your uncon­di­tion­al love for your child, while allow­ing your child to under­stand that doing well and try­ing their best for a test is some­thing desir­able. This way, when your child grows old­er and more inde­pen­dent, they will be self-moti­vat­ed to try their best in school and to do well for their exam­i­na­tions. You should view the car­rot as a form of pos­i­tive rein­force­ment to induce good behav­iour, which your child will car­ry into adult­hood.

For exam­ple, our June Hol­i­day Pro­gramme quiz com­posed of ques­tions from Eng­lish, Chi­nese, Math­e­mat­ics and Sci­ence sub­jects saw a high par­tic­i­pa­tion rate of 190 stu­dents, as our TTA stu­dents raced to answer the ques­tions as well as pos­si­ble, in hopes to win a prize. While only the top scor­ers get the prize, the prize acts as a pos­i­tive rein­force­ment to moti­vate stu­dents to recap what­ev­er they had learnt dur­ing the June Hol­i­day Pro­gramme, and is always an effec­tive way to get our stu­dents to reflect and remem­ber their learn­ings from the pro­gramme.

The Stick

As the approach sug­gests, a par­ent can­not only dan­gle car­rots to reward good behav­iour, but should also know when to dole out appro­pri­ate pun­ish­ment for bad behav­iour. A stick can come in the form of rep­ri­mand, or tak­ing away what your child takes for grant­ed, such as screen time, and their favourite toys. Rea­son­ing is always impor­tant, espe­cial­ly when it comes to the stick, as your child has to under­stand what exact­ly they have done wrong, and how they should have per­formed oth­er­wise, in order for the stick to take effect on their future behav­iour.

Striking a Balance

Every child is dif­fer­ent, so it is impor­tant to know what type of moti­va­tion res­onates bet­ter with them, and how much reward or pun­ish­ment you should give. Ulti­mate­ly, it is impor­tant to strike a bal­ance, so that the car­rot and stick approach can help with your par­ent­ing, but is not so overused that your child is only moti­vat­ed by the 2 ends of the spec­trum. Set bound­aries, rules and expec­ta­tions with your child, and allow them to under­stand these with open com­mu­ni­ca­tion along with the car­rot and stick approach. Just as how we moti­vate our stu­dents with rewards dur­ing quizzes, in order to push them to do their best dur­ing lessons, help your child grow with your sup­port and love, so that they can be the best ver­sions of them­selves.

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