Early Childhood Education: On Motivation and Trying New Things

As much as I really wanted Gavin to learn music, I’m afraid we haven’t been progressing very well. He isn’t the easiest of children to motivate and being 4 years old and stubbornly headstrong, all I can do is suggest things and hope that he’s willing to give it a go. Whatever it is that we do, regardless of whether he is enthusiastic about it, loses interest quickly, or rejects it completely, I still believe we are making progress. I believe the most important factor is exposure. If he has never tried it, how will he know if he likes it or not? If I do not introduce it to him, how will he discover his passion?

The reason I keep cycling back to music is because I am hopeful that Gavin will change him mind about it. Young children live in the moment and just because they aren’t interested right now doesn’t mean they won’t be interested tomorrow, next week, or next month. Sometimes, it is all about timing. For instance, when I first started Gavin on music lessons, he hated it and he was completely uncooperative. In the end I had no choice but to pull him out of classes. Then, after a school concert that he performed in, he suddenly told me that he wanted to take music lessons. Unfortunately, I didn’t react fast enough. By the time I got around to it, the fire had died and I couldn’t figure out how to stoke the embers.

I am still hopeful on the music front because I have noticed his tendency to bob unconsciously to the beat of random pieces of music he hears. Although he declines to listen to classical tracks, he will listen to Daddy’s Red Hot Chili Peppers CD in the car. Then recently he told me that Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants is now his favourite. Although I bought Here Comes Science for Gareth, I figured it wouldn’t hurt for Gavin to listen to it but when I first put it on for the boys to listen, Gavin told me he didn’t like it and he didn’t want to listen to it. Now he’s crazy about it. Go figure…

The other thing I wonder sometimes is whether Gavin might be more receptive to certain things if he had been exposed to them from a younger age. On the surface, Gareth seems to be more open to a lot of things. He takes well to enrichment classes because he started going since he was five months. Gavin’s first class wasn’t until he was 18 months and boy did he hate it! Then again, my two boys are very different characters. Gareth by nature has always been more easy-going so this might have been a factor in their differing reactions.

That said, I still think there is some merit to the idea that early exposure brings about a certain familiarity which children latch on to. For instance, Gareth’s first exposure to TweedleWink was when he was five months and he loves it. He reacts to the alpha wave music and always looks up from whatever he’s doing. He even takes his DVD out of the drawer for me to put it on for him. Gavin, on the other hand, first saw TweedleWink when he was two years plus. His reaction was lukewarm. He would watch it if I sat with him and nursed him. After a while, he wouldn’t let me play it for him. These days, he’s coming around again, although I don’t know whether this is a personal decision or if it is motivated by the fact that his brother likes it.

And that leads me to the benefit of having two children. If one child likes something, you can use that to help open up your other child. So although Gavin isn’t particularly adventurous when it comes to trying new things, he is usually willing to observe if I tell him I’m doing it for his brother. Through observation, I can get him interested (or not, but at least I know whether he likes it or not as opposed to him rejecting it because it is new and unfamiliar).

So these are my take home points (which, come to think of it, is pretty similar to the idea of introducing new foods to your child):

  1. At the end of the day, it is all about exposure.
  2. If your child rejects it now, try again another day.
  3. If you have more than one child, try to get the child that likes it to interest your other child so that he gives it a go.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: