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We've had conversations about needing to complete things that we don't feel passionate about and that it's still possible to take pride in the work even if it's not exciting. But I wonder if that is my adult construct that I'm trying to impose? Any thoughts would be helpful.

- Cathleen, Sacramento, CA

Listen to Doctor Katherine's Answer...  

Thank you for this question Cathleen. This is a great opportunity to help your son practice several Inspired Kids Success Secrets. With this situation, you can help your child learn the Success skill I call Let Passion Lead™ and the other I call Strengthen Strengths™

While your son is young, use these situations as opportunities for him to learn to value and begin to identify his passions in life and to learn to strengthen his strengths.

A mindset our children will especially need in the new times is cherishing, identifying and following their passions to achieve a happy fulfilling life that keeps them on the path they were meant for.

Another success strategy is to focus on strengths and strengthen them. As opposed to working on weakness.

The first step in learning to follow our passions in life is for children to begin identifying what their passions are and what their strengths are.

Many people arrive at young adulthood or even adulthood and don't really know what they like or what activities give them joy.

From a very early age, even preschool, I suggest to parents that they help their child begin to keep a passion and strengths log or journal.

Likes and dislikes on this log will vary and change over the years but by the time your child reaches middle or high school they will have a strong sense of what kinds of activities delight them and reenergize them and what kinds of activities take away their energy or bore them.

When your son has school projects or other responsibilities instead of focusing on the quality of work, it might help to focus having him identify what he likes and doesn't like about the task and why. How does he feel about the different aspects of the project? This makes the activity more of an adventure in self-exploration or self-discovery.

You can talk about how the parts he doesn't like are harder to work on and not as fun or energizing

You want him to learn that knowing his passions and what he likes will be important for making choices in what he does when he grows up and for making his life easy and fun.

Have your son write down - or in this case - dictate to you things he LIKES to do and on a scale of 1-10 how confident he feels about his skills at doing them. He should also list things he DOESN'T like to do and how good he is at them.

Keep this an on-going log which you can have handy when experiences come up, your son can log his like or dislikes in his journal.

Explain to him that you are helping him keep his log so that as he grows up he will begin to know what he likes best and what he is good at, so that he can plan his life around following his passions.

Every six months revisit his log and talk about his passions and how they may have changed or evolved or stayed the same.

Now, in terms of your question, first of all realize that stressing tidy, neat school work may not be a worthwhile goal for a 10 year old boy.

That said, when your son is doing an activity and you can see he isn't motivated, try to put aside judgment and instead focus on if this would be an activity he likes to do or dislikes and why or why not. Get his mind on being less emotional and more investigative about how he responds to his assignments.

You can continue the message that doing quality work is important and encourage him to try his best even at things he doesn't prefer but just by writing down what he doesn't like about an assignment will help take the stress out of the requirement because he will feel his preferences are being acknowledged in his log.
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