Why your child hates studying and how you can change that!
Over the course of my career as a career counsellor and mentor, I’ve interacted with a lot of children. I’ve seen many parents complaining about how their kids just aren’t interested in studying. They’ve tried everything! Mrs Shanti from Delhi changed her daughter, Sonia’s school twice in the hope for better faculty, got her tuitions in 4 subjects and even paid for a course from Byju’s yet Sonia just didn’t study.
On the contrary, Vijay Kumar, who was born and brought up in a slum cracked the IIT-JEE exam and is now studying in one of the most reputed colleges of our country. He didn’t have amenities like expensive coaching centres and fancy material to help him get through yet with hard work he managed to crack this exam.
This incident made me realize that it really isn’t about the approach one takes towards studying but the mentality behind it. They say you can lead a horse to the water but you can’t make him drink similarly as parents you can provide your child with all kinds of expensive facilities but if they don’t have the mindset to excel, success just won’t follow.
In today’s edition of parent central, I’ll be diving deep into the core reasons of why students don’t study and how as parents you can motivate them too!
Reason number 1) – Patience
“Study now and you’ll live a comfortable life when you grow up” or “Study hard this 1 year for your boards and then life is good” are generally the messages conveyed to students by parents. Understand in today’s day and age teenagers are used to getting instant gratification. Within seconds each of their demands can be fulfilled through technology. This generation has grown up with less patience and a need for instant satisfaction.
When we tell them to study for 10 to 15 years in order to get a comfortable lifestyle or even a year for their board exams, we’re expecting students to work hard for days, months or even years without actually seeing results. Yes, marks are an indicator of success and hard work but the good life that was promised to them doesn’t really follow instantly, it takes time and even more effort.
So in the mind of a student, they question the fact about working hard and studying to see the results years later. They want to see results now; they want the good life now. This generation isn’t comfortable working in a system where they can’t see results and because of that, they feel that the system doesn’t deliver what was promised.
I know as parents you must be thinking about incentivizing studying, wherein children get a gift or a present for doing well to tackle the issue. This might work in the short run but what happens is that you’ll have to keep improving the incentive for them to study and if the incentive isn’t attractive enough the efforts again will go back to zero. We have to focus on the root cause of the problem which is the mindset, to bring out actual change.
Reason number 2) – Comfort
Now the issue with the ‘Study now and you’ll live a comfortable life when you grow up’ approach isn’t just with the time taken to see results but also with the reward. Look around, your children are already comfortable. If you send your child to a private school, give them a nice house, phone and wifi etc they are relatively living a luxurious life if not lavish.
So in the mind of the student, the reward for studying hard that too for so many years isn’t really that big because they already have it! Sonia didn’t have as much to gain by getting good marks then Vijay did. She was already comfortable and the appeal of a comfortable or a more comfortable life wasn’t enough to drive her.
No, taking away their comforts isn’t going to help. Even if you take away their cell phone, TV etc at the back of their head they know they’re going to get it back. Going a step forward and removing amenities like the television or the wifi from the house completely is just robbing you of the lifestyle which you and your spouse have worked at for years.
Reason number 3) - Contribution
I hate to break it to you but the parents who look at their children playing video games or being super active on Instagram and term them as ‘demotivated’ or ‘unfocussed’ are highly mistaken. The underlying fact is that children do want to contribute to society, achieve things and make a name for themselves in school.
Each child has an ego which affects their behaviour, actions and even their friend circles. Children often take up roles or personas in which they feel they can perform best. That’s why the tough guy often becomes the bully, the pretty girl becomes the social media star and the geeky kid becomes the ace gamer. They’re all in this pursuit of achieving and are so focused that academics take a back seat or is completely swept under the carpet.
The reason this happens is that students feel that excelling in academics might improve their own lives but it won’t really get them friendships or recognition amongst their peer group which is something teenagers at that age group secretly crave.
They feel that they can’t really create an impact through academics and that’s why they move on to other platforms like social media to fulfil their hankering of achievement. Taking away these outlets will not lead to your child studying! They will just find new ones.
I know by now you’re tired of listening to the problems and just want me to come to the solution. So here it is, the trick lies in the third reason which is contribution! That’s where the real mindset change will take place.
The Trick of Contribution
Replace “Study now and you’ll live a comfortable life when you grow up” with “Study now and you’ll live a fulfilling life in the future.”The good thing about this generation is that they’re very self-aware and genuinely have the drive to contribute and live successfully, it’s just that they don’t see academics as a medium of doing so.
With an ocean of knowledge available online, the reputation of the school system has taken a hit. “I don’t need to learn this, I can just Google it when the time arrives” is the most common phrase I hear from the mouth of students.
Once you change your approach as a parent and show your kids the different ways they can contribute if they study and earn a good degree their mindset will change. Expose them to different industries and job roles! Make them understand that in order to reach this stature and actually contribute they have to work hard right now.
The thing is that we use the wrong message. Instead of linking grades with comfort in life, link grades with impact in life. Show them that by putting in the effort now, the impact they can create later is much more.
Check out our article about how to inspire kids to know more about this approach
The Home Environment
Now the contribution trick mainly tackles the issue of not liking the reward provided by academics a.k.a reason 2 and not finding academics to be fulfilling and an avenue through which one can contribute a.ka reason 3. We still have reason 1 which is students not being patient enough left to deal with.
Instead of hounding your children to get good grades, turn an eye towards the process they’re undergoing. Ask them about the challenges they’ve taken, the reason for failure, strategize about how you can help them improve their grades and show appreciation for the effort taken up by them.
Show them the process matters and that they have to start trusting it. Tell them about the challenges you’ve faced in your personal/ professional life and how introspection and working hard solved them.
It’s scientifically proven that this approach increases the performance of students. Check the link below to know more.