Bribing and rewards are forms of extrinsic motivation often used in families to get desired outcomes. It’s really easy to do, quick and just happens so many times. It starts when they are babies and toddlers. Yet we know that children do so much better long term when they are intrinsically motivated.
Why is extrinsic motivation our go to motivation as adults for our children ?
Because we believe that things work in children in the same way that they work in adults. We like rewards and bribes so children will do too. In Nurtureshock, the authors say call this phenomena, The Fallacy of Similar Effect.
” The Fallacy of Similar effect also helps explain why society got it wrong on praising children. In a variety of studies, praise has been shown to be effective on adults in workplaces. Grownups like being praised. While praise can undermine a child’s intrinsic motivation, it doesn’t have this affect on adults. It has the opposite effect: being praised by manages increases an adult’s intrinsic motivation especially in white- collar professional settings. “
Dan Fink says it best in his TED talk about “If/ then situations” .
If you clean your room I’ll let you watch TV. If you get good grades in Math I’ll give you $20.
It just doesn’t work long term. ( Watch his TED talk to see)
I’ve just started listening to The Gift of Failure and bumped up against intrinsic motivation again and failure.
What goes hand in hand with children and motivation? Autonomy.
We all want to have control over what and when we do things and as children get older they push against our control. When they were toddlers they loved the choice of red socks or train socks but as they get older we all change. If they choose the train socks or the red socks it is no big deal but as they get older we as parents are unwilling to let the chips fall.
So how do we practice intrinsic motivation and failure in our homes and reset the reward/bribe culture or let go of the control and allow some more autonomy for our children.
Intrinsic motivation ideas to try at home
There are so many opportunities at home to practice intrinsic motivation and changing the atmosphere around failure and motivation.
- When they are working and things go wrong give them some words to say. I love the anchor chart below.
2. Don’t know where to put it at home? Try making a family conversational wall. Every time we sit for a meal we see it. It’s in a high traffic area so we see it. It’s part of our conversation during a meal. Best thing is because they are clipboards we can change the quotes to suit the conversation, theme and times in our family. The family quest scroll is our family mission statement and is part of the Creating your family haven.
3. Set loving limits. Start with the small things. As children get older this is a great motivator to have some control of their time and learn first hand what happens when they fail. We have to have loving consequences and be prepared to follow through.
Contributions have to be done well before______
Homework must be completed and looking good by ________
I’m not saying it’s easy but trying a few of these ideas will allow choices, motivation, consequences and rewards to find their rightful places within our children.
Failure becomes so skewed in the grades and testing culture in schools. Failure is often seen as just bad, embarrassing and messes everything up. But it’s also a time to reset, adjust, learn, switch directions, set aside and grow. We don’t focus enough on these things and allow our children to overcome failure. Help them change the language that’s playing in their heads.
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