My very good friend (who is also a very passionate teacher) and I were having a discussion of the importance of motivating our children from the ‘inside’.
“How do we get them to want to do it, without us constantly telling them they should do it”??? “How do we get our children to be happy with their achievements without them looking at us or anyone else to make their achievement ‘worthy'”
These are big questions but are very important. Child psychologists have long been talking about the importance of ‘intrinsic motivation’. This means that children internally understand that they, for example; ‘need to wash their hands after they have gone to the toilet’ compared to a parent constantly telling them they have to wash their hands. Or that a child looks for a reward after they have done something ‘good’ instead of just getting the reward of ‘keeping their bodies safe by washing their hands’.
The most important aspect of ‘intrinsic motivation is that this is something that your child will need and use for the rest of their lives. These building blocks are very important in raising a very balanced, self aware and self full filling child, teenager and adult. Dr Louise Porter goes further to say that it also will help to ensure children will not look for ‘external’ forces to make themselves feel better.
This is such a big parenting issue to take on so I am going to break it up into easier ‘to chew’ bits.
So we are going to start with ways we can change our rewards we give to our children. We are going to ‘ease’ off the praises and begin to encourage or recognise the effort. Does this sound weird?? Here is an example:
What would you think if I said ‘Saying GOOD BOY or GOOD GIRL” is not good for your child’s self esteem…..
The reason is because what happens when the opposite occurs??? Are they then a BAD BOY or GIRL???
The problem with labelling the child as GOOD or BAD is that you are not talking about the behaviour or achievement. So your child thinks that it is ‘them’.
So learn how to say “Wow, I can see how you have really thought about that”! “Those words you are using are hurting my feelings”. So if we all start with changing some of our simple phrases we can start to intrinsically motivate our children.
Here are some others to start with:
You made it!
You are so helpful!
Go for it!
You showed lots of energy!
Please remember this is a lot to take in and just take little steps. Start reflecting on your rewards and the reactions your child has to them.