Monday Musings: Getting the Horse to Drink

IMG_0709So you probably know of or have a horse that you can get to the water…either willingly or kicking and screaming.  But once there, the horse refuses to drink.  Maybe the horse isn’t thirsty yet…so time goes by…maybe it should be thirsty now, but still refuses to drink.  So more time goes by…the horse has to get thirsty at some point and will take a drink right?

Advice for parenting toddlers includes offering new foods several times before they will taste it, like it, want more, etc.  Sometimes it takes years of exposure to the same “new” foods before suddenly “we” decide we’ll try it and discover what we’ve been missing.  And sometimes we still need more time.

The other toddler rearing topic that generates lots of advice is toilet training.  A parent can talk until they are blue in the face about the toddler being a big kid now or picking out stickers or a bigger reward or getting the potty or picking out the “big kid” underwear or playing the salty snack and drink game, etc…BUT, sometimes none of that prepping or pep talking does anything…the horse is still not drinking.  Then one morning out of the blue, the toddler announces that this is the day they are switching to the “big kid” pants. Maybe by then you’ve given up and have actually put all that stuff away to try again later…maybe the toddler just wasn’t ready before.

Well, it’s been years since our kids were toddlers…and some things haven’t changed much.

So how does motivation work?  How does one get that horse to drink?  Rewards may or may not work, pep talks are a hit or miss, lectures are a miss for sure.  Is motivation something learned?  Are we born with it?  Is it a constant?…doubt it.  Is it part of our personality?

It seems to me with all the opportunities and options available out there in the world, everyone should be able to find something to get passionate about, something that gets them motivated.  Granted, cleaning toilets is not high on most people’s lists.

From Webster’s Dictionary…

motivation (noun) something that arouses action or activity

For me it takes a goal…a result that I’m after.  That doesn’t necessarily mean I have to finish first or as the best based upon someone else’s standards.  The goal can simply be finishing something or doing the best I can…which is not the same as settling.

When someone “settles”, there’s a sense of giving up, or being satisfied with “whatever”.  Whereas doing one’s best, even if the end result is not what was expected, there should be a sense of “I did everything I could with what I had…it could be better under different conditions, but this is the best I could do this time.”  There should be no regrets in this scenario, but there could be in the first.

And then there’s always motivation that gets out of hand and results in stress, health issues, poor ethical decisions, etc.

How do we nurture healthy motivation in our children so they aim to do their best at least most of the time, not to settle, know their limits but find their passions that get them excited and motivated…so that when they come to the water, or the water is brought to them they will drink?  Is it a case of we, the parents, see their potential and with our additional life experience we want to lead them to the water faster…but they’re not ready to drink yet…they need more time?

This morning a friend commented about kids and schoolwork in terms of leading a horse to water but not being able to make it drink.  So for the horse that’s not ready to drink yet…it will get thirsty right?  Probably, hopefully…maybe the horse knows what it needs, maybe it understands what will motivate it to drink…and maybe it just hasn’t found it…yet.




What do you think?