Ever wish your students were more motivated? If you’re like most of us, you have tried an array of rewards and punishments to motivate kids. There’s only one problem: it doesn’t work. At least it doesn't work well enough. People (yes, even students) aren’t motivated from the outside so rewards and punishments only work to a point. We are internally motivated. That’s why it's essential to engage and inspire students to be motivated to succeed in school (and life.)

If you’re ready to move beyond the reward/punishment model and embrace a whole new way to understand motivation, I encourage you to come back regularly. It’s time to challenge the status quo and create schools and classrooms based on what really motivates behavior.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Effective Parenting: The Importance of Setting Limits

I recently was asked the following question by a parent:

I don’t mind my 12-year old daughter using her iPad for recreational purposes. But lately, it’s been distracting her sleep pattern. She’s sleeping later and later because she’s glued to it. I’ve tried to take it away but this results in her yelling and resisting even more to go to sleep. I even tried to go on a light jog after dinner to get her a bit tired and ready for bed. Any suggestions?

Being an effective parent includes establishing limits and sometimes saying “no.” The typical 12-year old will yell and resist when they don’t get their way. When you say “no” – also known as “doing your job as a parent” - they’ll sulk and pout and yell and try to guilt you into capitulating. Trying to get what they want – even if it’s not in their best interest - is their choice. There’s nothing wrong or unusual about that.

As a parent, you also have a choice. You can allow your child to have their way, experience some short-term relief, possibly hear “you’re the best Mom (Dad) ever!” and contribute to their poor sleeping habits…..or….you can do what you think is in your child’s best interest even though it means some momentary unpleasantness. 

When kids stay up too late, their sleep pattern is disturbed. Adults understand this, but adolescents often fail to appreciate the consequences of their actions. Consequences happen in the future. Adolescents live in the present. 

All jobs involve some difficult moments. The most important job – parenting – is no different. The best parents say “yes” as often as possible while setting limits that are appropriate. A parent’s job description includes if and when an iPad can be used. Despite her protests, your daughter will be better off when you demonstrate that you are a parent who sets reasonable limits.


As always, if you enjoyed this and found it useful, please send the link to your friends. Thanks.

Bob Sullo

For information about books by Bob Sullo and to schedule a keynote, workshop, or series for your school, agency, or parent group visit www.internalmotivation.net


  1. Yes. Kids love their ipads, kindles, etc. They also need time to read books, talk with friends and family, see the outdoors, etc. They are becoming dull to life outside their electronic devices. Here is a great article on true happiness and what it means/takes to be truly happy:

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