How to motivate and calm your child down

If your child is apathetic, depressed, and seems to have no motivations, it is most likely that he/she is suffering from some type of depression.  Depression is something that affects not only adults, but children frequently suffer from it as well.  You can tell when your child is not just unmotivated, but when they also act rebelliously, they could be stubborn, or could be angry or distant the majority of the time.
a smiling boy with a paper aeroplane toy

Causes that provoke a child to feel unmotivated

  • Lack of self-worth or personal satisfaction.
  • Not feeling important.
  • A diet low in essential nutrients.
  • Constant criticism by adults.
  • Not having support or solid or constant companionship in their life (children that spend a large part of their time in day cares or being cared for by different adults).


All children are usually very motivated from birth: they cry, they scream, the ask for things and play from a very early age in order to discover and feel the world.  Their eyes reflect their desire to discover and understand.  However, there are a lot of situations that can diminish this natural enthusiasm as children grow.

What can you do?

  • Take a look to see if all of the child’s basic nutritional needs are being covered in their diet.
  • Try not to leave your child under the supervision of different people.  If you can’t take care of him/her during the day, it’s best to rely on family, an uncle, grandparent, etc.
  • Avoid rewarding them when you play with them, or when you want them to do something.  Their best compensation should be their own satisfaction.  Then, you can invite them to something they like, but not in a tone of compensation.
  • Make sure that their ability to discover and learn is not constantly being denied: a lot of adults frequently scold children, imposing behaviors on them that limit their natural childlike actions to discover the world.  Words like “leave that there”, “don’t do that”, “don’t play in the mud or the water”, “don’t touch that”, “you don’t understand”, etc., are terrible orders for children.  This enormously limits their scientific, playful, and discoverer personality.  If a child constantly feels this frustration, you can believe that little by little, they will become rebellious and very unmotivated to learn, and even to play what they can play.  We’re not saying that you should let them do everything, but the tone of your voice or the way you transmit this message, means a lot.  The child might not be able to play with a glass plate, for example, but explain to them why, and show them another option, rather than just demanding.  The tone changes completely.  This is about helping them discover the world, and not about depriving them of it.  A lot of times what this requires from the parents and educators, is time and willingness to submerge the child in the wonders of this world.
  • Let them help with household chores: a lot of mothers frequently think that children are bothersome when they’re doing household chores.  This often times leaves children with nothing to do, and they begin to invent mischief, which makes the mother mad.  Children can immensely enjoy household chores if you ask their help.  That why, the mother should break the normal patterns of perfections when it comes to household orderliness, because if you want everything to be just like you would make it, the child’s participation could then become a complete battle, or an unpleasant activity, because the child will perceive that the mother is angry.  So this is about inviting them, and making the chore into a game, especially living together.  Just like previously mentioned, the adults need to give their time and willingness.  Washing the dishes, sweeping, vacuuming, are all activities that could be attractive to children.
  • Ask their help: ask children for their sincere help.  When you truly need them, it helps them feel more important and valuable.
  • Plan surprise games from time to time.  For example, invite them one night to look for bugs with flashlights in the park.  Tell them to find something that you hid at the house, create a story, where you start, and they finish, and keep on making the story up.

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