Yoga and Mindfulness for Challenging Behaviors Part III -- Lack of motivation and consistency
By Kathryn Boland, Flow and Grow Kids Yoga Blog Manager and 95-hour Teacher Training Graduate and Lara Hocheiser, Flow and Grow Kids Yoga Founder/Owner
Kids acting in ways that drain you, however understandable through these times? Hoping for some positive changes? What would it be like to have your kids or students a bit more consistent and steady? Yoga and mindfulness is no cure-all (and severely problematic behavior might very well call for the assistance of a psychological professional) -- yet it’s a holistic approach that can make a difference when other approaches haven’t.
In this edition of this series, we’ll look at how accessible yoga philosophy concepts can help kids stay more focused and consistent with their schoolwork and other enriching activities -- and maybe even have them truly love doing so!
We'll preface with an important guideline: it's important not to shame or coerce children into productive behaviors. The most fruitful approach is to help them find the motivation and consistency within themselves. That's where it has to come from, or it won't be sustainable, authentic, or beneficial.
Tapas -- consistent work towards a goal, even when it gets hard
Kids sometimes lose motivation and lack consistency with their work because they just get exhausted and/or discouraged at how much work it all is all the time. It's vital to not overfill kids' plates and expect too much of them (or for any human being to take on), and they need rest (just like anyone else).
At the same time, it's a valuable lesson to learn that a cycle of work and rest is just what life has in store for us. The beauty of tapas, of that coming back to one's work over and over again, is that's where the magic of growth and discovery is found. We get good at what we do because we make working hard at it (in between rest periods) a habit.
That's where the small nuggets of magic are found: the small but notable improvements, the joy in hitting different inflection points of accomplishment, the connection with others engaged in those same activities. Yes, anything we engage with will have it's challenging moments -- but those magical moments can make all of that difficulty worth it. That difficulty can even make those magical moments all the sweeter.
We can illustrate all of that wonder for our kids through underscoring those moments, modeling appreciation of those things in our own lives, and encouraging them to find that appreciation for themselves.
It might be a taller order to use this approach for something like encouraging our kids to do their math homework when it's a subject they really dislike. Yet even then, they can find small joys in small and big accomplishments within that work (getting a hard exercise right, finishing up the work, getting a better grade on a test because they studied hard).
Saucha: tidiness for focus and ease
Have you ever tried to juggle a million things without a clear structure for doing so? How about focusing on your work within a messy, chaotic space? Doesn't feel too great and doesn't work too well, right? The same is true for kids.
If they don't have organization and clarity within their schedules and commitments, it's easy for them to get overwhelmed and feel like they want to give up. That might manifest in a lack of motivation and/or consistency -- especially if they're not at a developmental level to clearly recognize and communicate "I'm overwhelmed", and then respond accordingly.
On a literal and physical level, they can also get to that overwhelmed place if their spaces and things aren't organized. If their gear for hockey or soccer or ballet is who knows where, and it's always such a thing to get all of that together so that they can go to practice or class, it could be part of them just deciding they don't want to go this week -- or even longer. If the desk where they do homework looks like a hurricane hit it, it's a whole lot harder to focus effectively enough to get their schoolwork done.
As the caring adult in their life, you can help them avoid these outcomes with organizational structures -- both literal and metaphorical. Weekends could be a great time to tidy up, organize things they'll need for the coming week, and then visually, tactile-ly plan out that coming week.
Different systems work well for different people, but for this writer it's helpful to write out commitments and to-do within the organizational platform Trello, for the coming week every Sunday night. You could do something similar with your child(ren), and make it a fun weekly date -- with things like healthy treats and music they like. You might even find them looking forward to it!
At night, I write out the same for the coming day, in a more detailed (time block by time block) manner. Things inevitably change along the way, but it's incredibly clarifying to go into the next week or next day with a structure -- a structure that's at least an idea of what's required to get done and where I'm scheduled to be.
You can help the children in your life achieve something closer to that sort of clarity with a few straightforward organizational systems. You can then watch to see what it can do for their motivation, consistency, and -- most importantly -- their day-to-day growth as people, peace of mind, and fulfillment in life.
Interested in learning more about how to raise or educate happier and more well-behaved kids through yoga and mindfulness? Check out the first and second editions of this series. If you want to go even deeper, check out our Yamas and Niyamas bundle.Questions? Email the creator of these resources, Flow and Grow Kids Yoga Founder/Owner Lara Hocheiser at email@example.com. We always love hearing from people in our community!