by Ollie Lovell

How to help your boy stay motivated

As the exam period begins for many of our children, the question of how to sustain motivation for learning in boys is one on many people’s minds.  

One of the best researched and most influential books on the topic of motivation is Drive by Daniel Pink. Towards the end of his book, Pink includes a special section for parents and educators on how to nurture intrinsic motivation in our children and students.  

Here are three ideas that Daniel Pink shares to help with motivation:  

  1. Help boys stay connected to the ‘why’ of their engagement 
    By asking your son questions that prompt him to connect the current task to the bigger picture, and his long-term goals, can help him to remember the deep purpose behind his study and assist with motivation.  
  2. Offer praise ‘the right way’ 
    This means praising effort and strategy over intelligence, making sure that praise is specific, and ensuring sincerity. Pink warns, ‘If you overpraise, kids regard it as dishonest and unearned.’ 
  3. Offer ‘now that’ rewards rather than ‘if then’ rewards  
    ‘If then’ rewards, like, ‘If you do this work, we can have pizza for dinner’, can undermine people’s intrinsic motivation to complete a task, decrease the creativity of their approach to the task, and decrease the chances that they’ll complete it without a reward in future.  

‘Now that’ rewards, such as ‘Now that you’ve put in a great effort today, we will have pizza for dinner’, act as pleasant surprises that acknowledge good efforts without undermining future intrinsic motivation.

But Pink adds that regular and predictable ‘now that’ rewards quickly become more reliable ‘if then’ rewards, so ensure that your ‘now that’ rewards remain a pleasant surprise by avoiding too much regularity.   


Brought to you by Brighton Grammar School


Ollie Lovell is a Senior Researcher with the Crowther Centre at Brighton Grammar School. He has authored two noted book publications on education and is a podcast host. This article is about