Sunday, April 15, 2012

How Can You Use Personality Style To Motivate Children?

Peeled, whole, and longitudinal sectionPeeled, whole, and longitudinal section (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A good friend's daughter has a three year old who calls banana peels, 'nano wrappers'. This is pretty funny in itself but the story she told me recently is hysterical. Apparently while riding in the car and eating a banana, Walter's mother took the 'nano wrapper' and tossed it out the window. Walter having been taught never to throw anything out the window was horrified at his mother's actions and in great distress, told her she shouldn't do that. She explained to him that banana peels are good for the earth and animals might eat them so it really was not bad to throw 'nano wrappers' outside. He considered this new information for a few seconds, then leaned out the window and yelled, "Birds! Birds! Nano wrappers are good!" She laughed so hard, she had to pull off the road.

A common topic among teachers and parents alike is how to motivate and encourage children to do the things they need to do; homework, learn their multiplication tables, practice the piano, clean their room.  Often you hear the teacher or parent complain, "They're just not motivated!  I've tried everything I can think of. Even losing privileges isn't working!"  Does this sound like you?  Have you said this?

One important aspect of encouragement and motivation is understanding the DISC personality style of the child. When it comes to motivation, one size does not fit all.   For instance, if you have a 'D' wired child, that is one who is strong-willed, determined, decisive and action oriented, you can use their personality style to motivate them.   'D' personalities are very competitive and love a challenge, so setting a goal to give their energy some direction will be very successful. Their secret fuel is getting results, so be sure to have a way for them to track their accomplishments.

'I' wired children are interactive, inspirational, influencing.  They are great starters but not such great finishers.  Since they thrive on social interaction and recognition, setting a goal that involves a social network to support and encourage them to achieve it would be best.  Add in an element of fun and the I wired child will be hooked.

'S' wired children are steady, stable, sweet and like the status quo.  They are great finishers but often have difficulty starting tasks.  They are very tuned in to the needs of others and will work to accomplish a goal as much to please you as to please themselves.  Select a goal that they can commit to with your support or the support of a close friend to motivate them to get going. Give them lots of encouragement and let them know how much you appreciate their efforts along the way.

Finally, 'C' wired children are cautious, careful, competent and concerned.  They love to develop and research a goal.  If they are committed, they will work hard to accomplish the task.  Help them see the big picture so that they don't get lost in the details and you will have a winning combination. Provide them with good value for their work, quality answers to their questions and let them know the 'right' thing to do  and they will be motivated to complete the task.

Learning to set and accomplish goals is an important skill to learn.  Following through on those goals and staying motivated to the end can be difficult, but if  you speak your child's personality language, you can ensure that they are successful.  Sometimes like the birds, we just need to know what is good for us!

What is your experience with motivating children?  What works with your child?

Want a great book to teach even the youngest child about personality styles?  Try this one:


  1. We could never find anything that would motivate Danny's youngest son to excel in school. From the descriptions you gave here, Lynne, he probably fits closest in the "I" category.
    Wish we'd figured that out earlier . . .
    Great information for parents!

  2. @ Martha--each child presents a unique blend of personality characteristics and some are harder than others to figure out! I wish I'd had this information when my children were young as well. Thanks for stopping by...