5/25/16

Difference Between Motivation and Anxiety?




What is the difference between motivation and pressure that produces anxiety? This is one of those topics where I don't actually have an answer. I'm really trying to work through this idea. Specifically related to grades.

For the majority of my life, I've been a good student. Almost always on Honor Roll. Although Straight A's was something I never accomplished. But I worked hard. Harder at some subject matters than others but I was never a slacker. And I have a list of accomplishments that I feel can back up these claims.

When it comes to the grades of my kids, I want to know they have honestly done their best...then I'm satisfied. At this point in their educational journeys, both of my kiddos do very well academically. I'm very proud of both their efforts and accomplishments.

I can see in one child that striving for all A's is currently a motivator. I can see in the other child, this same goal is beginning to produce anxiety. I work very hard to assure them both that I am proud of them. And that if a B is your best, that's great! At some point they will both come across a topic that will be a real struggle for them and we will have to tackle how to handle "failure" at that time. Because failure is a part of life. It will be ok, we will learn what we can and move forward from there.

Of course I want my kids to succeed. And I want them to be motivated to do well for themselves. Not for anyone else, for themselves. Isn't it funny how different people react to the same "pressure" in different ways? This is not a new idea but it is what is weighing on my mind today.

As a child myself, I watched my younger sister suffer from anxiety about her grades all the time. I didn't understand it but I saw it was real for her. As an adult, I have personally struggled with many anxieties. Now, I definitely understand that anxiety isn't rational and we can't really control it. I also know I don't want my kiddos to suffer from it.

I want my oldest to continue to be motivated by good grades. To use that motivation to keep working towards more good grades. But how do we keep this desire for good grades from sliding into pressure which causes anxiety? This morning he said to me he hopes he doesn't get a B on his reading test. This was the first time I heard him sound concerned. I asked if he was prepared. He answered, yes. So then I asked him, "if you get a B, what happens? Do you lose your home? Will you die? Will I love you less?" Sounds silly (I know, that escalated quickly) but I don't want him to think a "B" is a terrible thing. Because guess what? A "B" is not a terrible thing.

My youngest already seems to be showing anxiety due to her grades. Not because she does poorly. It's just how she is responding the pressure of getting ready good grades. It makes me sad to see this in her. Because anxiety for any reason, sucks! And she is a great student. She doesn't need to be anxious or fearful. I tell her all the time, I want an honest answer...."did you do your best?" She knows if she can say "yes", I am proud of her because I tell her.

Both of my kids are great students. I keep saying this...because it is true. Yet I struggle with talking about grades. I never want them to think it is a competition between each other. It will never be that. Yes, grades are important. But they aren't THAT important. Not in the big picture. Learning how to learn is important. Learning how to overcome struggle is important (as well as a confidence builder). Learning to be "the best" is not that important to me. Am I wrong for not verbalizing they should always be the best? I don't think so.

I find it very interesting that these two live in the same (two) home(s) with the same two parents. And at this point, they respond very differently to this type of pressure. How do you keep this pressure as a motivator and not a source of pressure. Can you share any ideas that will help me guide both of my kiddos? If you have any suggestions, please post them below. I appreciate it.


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