Usually, we think of motivation in one of two ways:
- Do it right & you’ll get [reward]
- Do it wrong & you’ll get [punishment]
This is a very simplistic model of motivation, but to be fair, most adults don’t study the psychology of motivation when prepping to become parents.
Let’s talk about two basic categories of motivation: Extrinsic & Intrinsic.
Extrinsic motivators, such as giving a reward or punishment, are useful in the short term. Long term, they tend to create the drive to seek the physical reward rather than fostering the behaviors we were trying to teach.
Do you want your child to clean their room because having a tidy room leads to more positive mental health, or are we teaching them that if they clean when asked, they get ice cream?
Do we want our children to have good manners because it helps them build strong social bonds, or because they fear getting spanked?
Both of these concepts work in the short term, but in the long run, they do not convey the lessons & behaviors we’d like our kids to learn in a way they can apply in other situations.
Skillz programs use extrinsic motivators such as belts & skill stripes to engage the children in the learning experience.
It is equally vital for us to use those tangible goods to foster discussion about more intrinsic motivations.
If a child can earn a stripe because they met an objective goal, they may be encouraged to try a bit harder. However, if they also receive labeled praise about what the stripe means, they can begin to apply the more intrinsic ideas to their self-image.
Example: “You’ve earned your red stripe. That shows me that you’re a person with great Agility!” This can be further reinforced through mentorship when we revisit the lesson after a child has already earned a stripe (stripes, to us, indicate only baseline proficiency.)
We might say something like, “I know you already have good Agility because you have your Red stripe. What’s one way we can make it even better?”
Tying the motivation to their performance & their self-image rather than the stripe, we have started the journey toward learning.
This is a VERY deep subject, of course, and this just touches on some of the surface ideas.
Are you having challenges motivating your child effectively? Let us know how we can help!
To learn more about the powerful Skillz child development program that uses elements of martial arts training as the vehicle for growth, or to get your child started at our Patchogue location, click the button below:
4GK MARTIAL ARTS & SKILLZ OF PATCHOGUE
380 East Main St
Patchogue, NY 11772
Author: Michael A Evans
Michael is a 6th-degree black sash under his teacher, Moises Arocho, and has been training in martial arts since 1985. Michael has a degree in Massage Therapy from NY College of Health Professions. He is the co-owner of 4GK Martial Arts in Patchogue, NY, and of Skillz of Patchogue, which is a childhood development facility using martial arts and other movement modalities as the vehicle for kids’ growth and success. Michael is also the Lead Consultant for Skillz Worldwide