Motivate your Child to Learn a New Skill!!!

Parents ask me all the time how to motivate their child to learn a new skill that they have no interest in learning. I usually like children to learn skills for the inherent value of acquiring that skill but there are times when a little push in the right direction is needed! I like to suggest this approach for toilet training, getting dressed, brushing teeth, sleeping in one’s own bed.

Here is my approach (it works VERY well)!

It’s important to get your child involved in every step of this activity so that they feel their involvement and become more easily committed to following through. One of the reasons this is so motivating is that it gives the child a VISUAL and KINESTHETIC feedback so they can see how far along they’ve come and how much more effort they need to do before winning the reward.

1. Discuss the desired skill with your child. It must be ONE skill. Keep it short, simple and attainable. Ex: Put on socks and shoes (not get dressed on your own…(this can be a goal when you feel your child is ready but if they are having difficulty getting dressed, break up the skills)

2. Have your child pick their reward. I like to go online and print out 2 copies of the desired reward. For example, we picked a Lalaloopsy Doll.

Matey Anchors

3. Draw a grid on both pictures. Here I drew 12 boxes for the 12 days that I want to work on it with the child. (If you need more time draw more boxes.)


4. On one image, number each box from 1 to 12 in small numbers AND on the back of the other image mark each corresponding box with number 1 to 12 in large numbers.


5. Hang up the first image (with the small numbers) in your child’s room and cut the other image in 12 boxes. Save the boxes in a little plastic bag or a little box.


6. Every day that your child puts on his socks and shoes, they get to stick a piece of the puzzle on the image. Once the entire image is completed, they win their prize and most likely will have learned their skill!

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Hi, I 'm Nancy

I’m an Occupational Therapist (OT) with more than 18 years of experience and whose greatest passion is working with children of all abilities. 

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