We’ve all used them: seemingly benign marble jars, the threat of punishment for misbehavior, nagging, or even giving our kids allowance for chores. We’ve used them because they work, at least in the short term, but are they the most effective way to motivate our kids? Research says no.
Using “carrot and stick” or external motivational techniques are easy and quick to implement, but ultimately they are not as effective or as long lasting as if our kids were intrinsically motivated. How often have you wished that your child would simply pick up their room (do their homework/or any other boring but necessary task) without nagging? Ultimately, this is the task of growing up: becoming “responsible.” But here’s the kicker: using external motivators aren’t just less effective than intrinsic motivators, they may actually be sabotaging your child’s natural intrinsic motivation.
In his New York Times bestseller Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us Dan Pink reviews the collective data on the science of motivation. He argues that human motivation is largely intrinsic, and that the performance of the task in itself is the intrinsic reward. But when we add a layer of external motivation (reward or punishment) we actually diminish the intrinsic drive.
So now we know why our "carrot & stick" incentive systems aren't as effective as we'd like, what shouldwe do?
Next week's post "The Science of Motivation and How We Can Apply it to Raising Kids" will outline HOW to foster your child's intrinsic motivation with concrete examples. Have a specific issue you'd like me to address? Feel free to post here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org