What Disneyland Teaches You About Your Kids

Motivating the kids has always been a challenge for me. While I understand the philosophy of “teaching them to yearn for the vast and endless sea”, I’m afraid I have a tendency for resorting to drumming because it’s easier. Subtlety has never been my strong suit – I come with a club in hand and a force-feeding tube because I lack the patience for cloak and dagger games.

A recent trip to Disneyland has opened my eyes to the awesome power of self-motivation and internal drive.

The Disneyland Waiting Game

Disneyland - Astro Blaster

G2 has always had a problem with being still. He’s always on the move even when he is sitting – he’ll be swinging his legs and touching everything within reach of his hot little hands. I loathe taking him on errands because I know he has the patience of a fly and I’ll end up being “that mother”. Yes, you know the one. She has these annoying kids who terrorise all the other customers and destroy everything in the waiting lounge.

So when we went to Disneyland, and he wanted to ride the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, I was hesitant because the queue was long – so long that it extended outside the ride. Even with Hong Kong Disneyland’s amazing efficiency, I knew it would be quite a wait before we would get on the ride. I tried to talk G2 out of it but he was determined to sit on that ride so into the queue we went.

I was amazed. G2 stood patiently in line, holding my hand and stepping forward only when the queue moved. I was so surprised by how well behaved he was that I had to look down several times just to make sure that the hand I was holding really did belong to my son and not some random child I had accidentally picked up along the way.

If only I could motivate him to behave in this manner every day…

The Disneyland Walking Test

G1 has two perfectly good legs but you wouldn’t have guessed it from the way he’s always looking for a spot to sit down for a “rest”. He grumbles ceaselessly about how his legs ache even getting down from after a long car ride.

During our trip to Disneyland, we spent almost an entire day on site from the moment the gates opened up until the closing ceremony with the fireworks (ok, we did take a a short break for an afternoon nap). Aside from mealtimes, when we were sitting on the rides, or when we were on the bus, both boys were on their feet the entire time. This was my activity record for the day – I took a total of 22,013 steps and walked a distance of 16.75km:

Apple Watch Activity Tracking -HK

I wouldn’t have believed my son had it in him to do that much activity in one day without uttering a single word of complaint. Unfortunately, the complaints were back in full force the next day when we were in Hong Kong city proper (I tracked 9930 steps and 7.78km for that day – not even half of what we did in Disneyland). I knew it was too good to last.

Perhaps it’s time I found the patience to dig deeper on this one – how to get the kids to become self-motivated. I don’t want to be the one pushing them up the hill because – let’s face it – it’s tiring. If I can help them develop their own internal motivation, I’ll be able to stop drumming and take a kip in my hammock.


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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