Ways to motivate children to study

This post is about how to motivate children to study.

Working with more than 200 secondary students for more than one decade, i will like to share some tips on motivating these teenagers that has worked for me. I am sure some of these tips are mention in other articles. I will like to add that whatever are mentioned in others’ articles can only worked for you if you add in your flavour. Every family, every parent, every child is different. Hence to me, there is no one size fits all. No BAO JIAK solution. 🙂


Tip 1: Set super short term goals.

For instance, able to finish homework without using phone for 2 hours in the evening. Trust me, this is not easy for some (ok, i think many) teenagers.

After which, you can reward them. Not necessarily with gifts or money. It can be doing things together. It may sound awkward. Some parents tell me “Err.. i dont think they want to spend time dong things with me.” Actually, this is not altogether true. Most children didnt know their parents are interesting or happening (in their ways). Ask them out for cafe-hopping over weekend. Bring them to interesting places ( Dont need to think so much, Just go with the flow. If you think Palau ubin is interesting, bring and expose them.) Dont need to spend the whole day either. Keep outing short. Like dates. 🙂

Tip 2: Stretch and connect those short term goals.

For instance, challenge them to do set aside 2 hours doing homework or revision without handphone for 3 days one week and so on.

Tell them importance of building a habit and its not tough. Share motivating videos with your children to motivate them. Try to do the challenge with them. They appreciate the company.

Tip 3: Set time for them to go out with their friends.

Please dont ask them to only focus on their studies and CCAs. I know its hard, especially when the child is already failing. He/She should spend their free time to revise and catch up and go to tuition.

But over all these years, i observed that those kids that have other activities to explore youth with their parents and especially with friends, are better in time management and they tend to be less distract and able to manage temptations better. 🙂

Tip 4: Share with them your problems, without expecting anything from them.

Be vulnerable. Kids sometimes have a strong sense of empathy than adults. The motivation for me to do well when im a teenager is because my parents are hawkers and they worked long hours. I want them to be happy. At that age, seriously, i do not know what i want to be when i grow up. But I did well because i know my results will make them happier and perhaps make their long days easier.

However, please do not emotion blackmail them.

It will backfire. They will be turn off or might end up as guilty adults. 🙁

Tip 5: Encourage them/praise them/ Find them mentors (if possible)

I know there are some articles now saying that we should not praise our kids for the little things they do. I agree, only to some extent. As in, we do not groom the little ones to feel that they are the prince/princess and they grow up with so much self-entitlement. However, i also believe our words have power. Its biblical. 🙂

Also, i realise if you dont encourage/praise your child then the world will do it. Then, who do you think they like to spend time with or listen to? 😐

On the part on finding mentors, I do not mean tuition teachers. It can be youth leaders in church. It can be their CCA seniors. It can be their cousin. Sibling tend to be tougher unless the age gap is bigger. 🙂

I do not mean those leaders from short camp some education organisations are selling. I mean someone who they can see and model in their daily lifes. Persionally, i cant say motivation camps/workshops dont work. However, i have a lot of feedback that the motivation is short-lived. My dream is to build a community for youth where they have role-models and have workshops often, a place where they can share their problems and pick themselves up. Pray with me that it will come true one day. 🙂


I hope the above help some parents. I do not believe academics is the only way to succeed in life especially in this generation whose IT moves faster than a bullet train. However, i do believe doing well academically teaches students perseverance, time-management and a lot of good attributes to do well in life. 🙂

Recently, i met 2 full time tutors like myself. They are sharing with me how they got a writer to write blog posts for their website to optimize their webpage on search engines search results. Then i thought to myself, wow “Thank you Lord.” Although i only post less than 10 posts annually, my webpage often appears in the first page of the search results if one search for a maths or science tutor in the north.

However, this conversation does motivate me to write more blog posts on my darling website. 🙂

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