My daughter doesn't listen to feedback and gives up easily. How can I get her motivated to try harder?

Children have a hard time separating feedback about their behavior or performance from criticism about themselves. (In fact, few adults have mastered that skill either.) When a child hears that work at school or chores at home are not completed to satisfaction, she may be hearing that she, herself, is not good enough. The best motivation is internal motivation. To develop that, guide her towards setting her own effort-based, measurable goals. For example, help her set a goal to study 20 minutes a night. Help her develop her own system of rewards for her effort, like listening to 5 minutes of music for every 20 minutes she reads or does school work. When she does stick to her plan, point out the positive results ("When you do your homework the night before, you aren't as rushed in the morning." "You found your favorite shirt so quickly because you put away your laundry neatly." "Studying just 5 more minutes a night really helped you improve your grade."). Focus on how she feels about her accomplishments so she pursues that feeling of satisfaction and pride, rather than outside praise. When you do look at her work, use questions, instead of statements, to help her evaluate her own efforts. For example, instead of saying, "This work is messy," try, "Presentation is very important. How can you make this work look better?" Self-evaluation is a very important life skill.

Candace Lindemann

Children's Author & Education Consultant

Candace Lindemann is a published children’s writer and educational consultant. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. You can also find Candace blogging at While Candace’s degrees prepared her for a career in education, she’s found that the best preparation for parenting is on-the-job training.