Getting Your Kids To Do Their Work, Part 1

by Joe Bennett
Using psychology and behavior design to get your kids to do their homeschool work

Part 1, Defining behavior and setting the trigger

In my line of work (Behavior Design) I study and apply neuroscience and psychology to everyday tasks. Really, what I’m trying to do is to just get other people to do things or to do things better.

Now, in my line of work as a homeschool dad I apply this stuff to get our kids to do things and do them better.

Defining the behavior

The first step in facilitating behaviors in others is to identify the behavior you want to see happen. I think we can all safely say that a major behavior we want to see in our kids is for them to do the school work we’ve assigned them. Annnnnnd wouldn’t it be great if they’d do that school work without having to be nagged, prodded, and reminded all day? Uh…yep.

Alright, first step nailed: The behavior we want to see or improve is our kids doing their school work

Next, we’ll apply Dr. BJ Fogg’s radically awesome behavior model: Behavior = Motivation+Ability+Trigger or B=MAT. They key is that MAT must happen at the same time for the behavior to occur.

IMPORTANT: Dr. Fogg asserts that you should always start with Trigger. So, guess what, that’s where we’ll start!

The trigger

Hey, It’s normal to be reminded to do something. Being reminded, internally or externally, is the trigger for us to take action on something. If our bladders didn’t trigger us to visit the restroom that would be bad, right?

The good news is you don’t have to be the trigger. You’ve may have been the trigger for a long time, telling your kids which task to do. This is tiring. It forces you to stop whatever you’re doing, readjust, look at what your kid is doing next, tell them, then switch back to what you were doing before.

Let Homeschool Manager be the trigger, or the weekly printout from Homeschool Manager. Any time anyone asks you, “Moooooom, what do I do now?” You just always and easily say, “Look at Homeschool Manager.” After a while all you’ll need to do is just look at them with a raised eyebrow and they’ll know inside to just “Look at Homeschool Manager.”

And then…oh sweet lordy, then your kids will develop the habit of just looking at Homeschool Manager to trigger themselves. Good, good times!

Ok, there’s Part 1 sign up below to get the next two parts right when they come out:

Part 2: Ability, making the behavior easier to do
Part 3: Motivation, helping your kids want to do the work

Have the best day ever!


Using psychology and behavior design to get your kids to do their homeschool work

Published by Joe Bennett