10 Ways to Motivate Children Without Rewards or Blackmailing

Motivating children without rewards or blackmailing is possible. We need to positively and emotionally reinforce their achievements and ensure that motivation comes from them, not from something external.
10 Ways to Motivate Children Without Rewards or Blackmailing
Mara Amor López

Written and verified by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Many parents wonder how we can motivate our children to do their homework. The main thing is to motivate children without rewards or blackmailing. Here, the primary tool will be reinforcement.

One of the concerns of parents is the lack of motivation among children to do their homework or study. And, when this happens to us, we make the mistake of using rewards or blackmail (threats) too much to try to motivate children.

In this article, you’ll see how you can motivate children without rewards, blackmailing, or punishment. Do you want to know how? Keep reading!

It’s possible to motivate children without rewards or blackmailing

“If you do your homework, I’ll buy you stickers.” This is something that many parents say to motivate their children to do their homework. But this resource, despite being easy, isn’t effective and won’t serve the purpose you really want.

Motivation is what drives us all to perform the actions that lead us to achieve our objectives and goals. If we use rewards or blackmail to get children to do certain things, what we’re doing is giving them extrinsic motivation. And what does this mean? That children will do things because of the external consequences they’ll have.

10 Ways to Motivate Children Without Rewards or Blackmailing

This doesn’t mean that rewarding is bad, but we can’t use this technique exclusively to motivate our kids. Once the reward disappears or isn’t immediate, the motivation will also disappear as well.

How can we motivate our children without rewards or blackmailing?

We can motivate children through reinforcement. This doesn’t mean that you have to give a gift or a prize. Rather, you can offer reinforcement in multiple ways, and the most effective way is to use emotional reinforcement.

For example, let’s say a child has studied really hard. They struggle with math but have managed to get a C. In this context, we can value their effort and adapt our requests and expectations to the child’s characteristics and abilities.

Another thing to keep in mind for a child to be motivated is that the objective or goal they want to achieve should be realistic. If this isn’t the case, it won’t be achievable and, therefore, the child will lose motivation.

Sometimes, parents themselves are the ones who set a very high bar for their kids and don’t realize that this can be counterproductive. Unrealistic and impossible goals will make kids think they can’t reach them and they won’t have any motivation to try.

Ways to motivate a child without rewards or blackmail

  • Help them set more realistic goals and objectives so they can achieve them.
  • Suggest activities that awaken their interests and make their desire to discover lead to self-motivation.
  • Set your expectations of them according to their abilities, and don’t demand more from them than they can give. This could be counterproductive and achieve just the opposite of what you want.
10 Ways to Motivate Children Without Rewards or Blackmailing
  • Give them autonomy so that they can achieve their goals on their own. In younger children, this can mean putting on clothes, cleaning their shoes, putting away their toys…
  • Involve them when there’s a problem to solve so that they can also contribute their ideas.
  • Ask them to teach you to do something that you already know they know how to do very well. When they see that they’re the one who are teaching you something, they’ll be very motivated.
  • Ask them to help you with some of the tasks you’re doing: Making dinner, giving you clothes while you hang them, etc. Any activity they can help with and feel valuable.
  • Take into account their abilities and learning styles.
  • Teach them to enjoy success when they achieve something, but also to value effort; to want something and fight for it, even if they haven’t achieved it.
  • Always positively reinforce their achievements.

As you’ve seen, these are just some of the ways that can help you when it comes to motivating a child without rewards, blackmail, or punishment. Surely you’re already putting some of these tips into practice, but now you have more tools to choose from. Of course, you can do anything else that will help you motivate your child through reinforcement.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.