Ep. 107: How to Motivate Kids Who Couldn’t Care Less with Dr. Ellen Braaten

Nov 15, 2022 | 0 comments

Do you have a child in your life that just doesn’t seem to care about anything? In a post-pandemic world, we’re seeing children and adults alike struggling to regain the motivation they once had. This is particularly challenging for the students who have learning differences and have been trying to catch up.

Today, we welcome back Dr. Ellen Braaten, author of the bestseller Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up and an upcoming release Bright Kids Who Couldn’t Care Less, which is the topic of today’s discussion. Oftentimes, kids are very bright but they just don’t seem to care. Dr. Braaten discusses how to meet kids where they are, set goals, and maintain motivation.


Show Notes:

[2:08] – Welcome back, Dr. Braaten! A previous episode featuring Dr. Braaten is one of the podcast’s most popular conversations.

[3:34] – Motivation has become a struggle for kids and adults alike since the pandemic.

[4:56] – Motivation is the reason behind the things we do. It varies for everyone.

[6:01] – There are three parts of motivation: initiation, persistence, and intensity.

[7:17] – There is some overlap with executive functioning skills and ADHD.

[8:59] – The focus on catching up at school has negatively impacted motivation. Kids need to do the things that bring them joy.

[10:30] – “Understanding is the foundation of hopefulness.”

[11:03] – Dr. Braaten lists some of the things to consider in your own child.

[12:36] – Kids can be good at something but might not enjoy doing it. Parental and societal expectations play a huge role in motivation.

[14:35] – Make sure life includes the things that they love.

[16:17] – Observe behavior and character in different environments.

[18:10] – Practicing is more about being deliberate rather than rote drills.

[19:27] – As adults, we need to realize the things that individuals need to do to be motivated. Overscheduling impedes joy.

[21:30] – Overscheduling is a huge problem. Kids need rest that isn’t just sleeping.

[22:23] – Sometimes the goal needs to be to take a step back.

[23:50] – Meet your child where they are.

[25:33] – Involve your child in these conversations.

[27:41] – Imagining the future is a powerful motivational tool.

[29:19] – Connect the things that they’re doing and focusing on to their future.

[32:41] – It is challenging to go from one thing to another, especially at a young age.

[33:38] – What are the red flags to look for and what should you do about them?

[35:40] – Depression can attribute to lack of motivation.

[36:33] – You can pre-order Dr. Braaten’s new book, Bright Kids Who Couldn’t Care Less.


About Our Guest:

Dr. Ellen Braaten is the founder and executive director of the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program (LEAP) at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Kessler Family Endowed Chair in Pediatric Neuropsychological Assessment, and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. She is widely recognized as an expert in the field of pediatric neuropsychological assessment, particularly in the areas of learning disabilities and attentional disorders. She has published numerous papers, chapters, and reviews on topics related to ADHD, learning disorders, child psychopathology, processing speed, and intelligence, and written and edited numerous books for parents and professionals, including the bestseller Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up and her newest book, Bright Kids Who Couldn’t Care Less.

Dr. Braaten has a strong interest in educating the public on topics related to child mental health. She maintains an active speaking schedule and contributes regularly to local and national news outlets such as NBC and the New York Times. She received her PhD in Psychology at Colorado State University and completed her psychology internship and post-doctoral fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.


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The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.