What kind of motivation works better for your child?

Constantly nagging at your child to get a certain task done? Well, then you’d be familiar with the struggle of getting children to do things on their own. Plus, with distractions rife around them, focusing on schoolwork and completing them can be extremely challenging too. So, what exactly are children lacking that is holding them back from completing things independently? The answer is motivation. 

Motivation can be broken down into 2 specific types. They’re known as extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Now, what exactly do these terms mean?

1. What is extrinsic motivation? 

Extrinsic motivation refers to being motivated due to the power of ‘external forces’. This means that an external reward pushes or encourages children to conduct a certain behaviour and go through with it. 

For instance, children can be encouraged to complete their homework so that they receive verbal praise from their parents. Here, they don’t actually enjoy the process of completing their homework. Instead, they’re completing the task to simply get something in return. 

Children can also be discouraged from having unhealthy snacks when a consequence – like, no screen time – has been established. In this case, they give up the unhealthy snacks just so they will not be deprived of their favourite activity. So, their extrinsic motivation is to avoid an adverse outcome. 

2. What are the pros and cons of using extrinsic motivation?

Extrinsic motivation works well because children are naturally tempted by rewards. After all, offering them a reward sends the message that they’ve done something right and this validation motivates them further. 

However, with that said, offering a reward each time they’ve completed a task can also set up expectations on a child’s end. In another scenario, the next time they do the right thing and don’t get a reward, they’ll wonder if they had done something wrong. Thus, leading them to feel demoralised. 

Children can also start to lose interest in the reward(s) they’ve received so far and may want something new for their efforts instead. The key is to offer rewards sparingly.

3. What is intrinsic motivation?

Intrinsic motivation refers to being motivated by the power of ‘internal forces’. This means that children do something for their own satisfaction, and simply because they want to. Not because a parent or teacher had demanded so. 

For instance, a child may be reading books because he/she is genuinely interested in widening his/her horizons. Imagine this: one day, your child voluntarily comes to you for more practice papers or household chores. That is possible! 

4. What are the pros and cons of using intrinsic motivation?

Intrinsic motivation is the best kind of motivation to instil in your child. After all, the core driving force is passion. This means that they’ll be able to get things done on their own. No more nagging or punishments!

When they’re able to find internal gratification for their own efforts, there’s minimal reliance on external rewards to keep them motivated too. 

Because intrinsically motivated children tend to perform well independently, parents should take special care to check-in with them regularly. While external recognition isn’t required, it sure helps to boost their morale!

5. So, which is better?

Let’s recall that extrinsic motivation comes from an external factor. This also means that children are less likely to care about the process. As such, this is a tool that can be used for things like chores at home, one-off tasks or for times when you’ve completely exhausted yourself!

Ultimately, intrinsic motivation helps children to find happiness and value in their efforts. This form of motivation can also be applied to other life stages and encourage them to keep excelling in their path.

Well, we hope this article has helped you get some ideas on how you can motivate your child better.

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