But hang on, let's go back to that 'controlled motivation' for a second. Isn’t that what parents are supposed to do?
- Tell their children what to do and what not to do.
- Give them rewards to motivate them to do the right thing and consequences to deter them from doing the wrong thing.
- Plus, punish them when they do the wrong thing.
Isn’t that all part of our job description? Because, let’s face it – what child LIKES tidying their room, giving up the iPad or eating all their vegetables?
While these strategies might appear successful in the short-term (because the child does the right thing, i.e the table is cleared, the bedroom is kinda tidy), the long-term effect of controlled motivation can be that the child becomes resentful, disengaged and rebellious. This is associated with a range of negative outcomes, such as low self-esteem, poor emotional regulation, oppositional, defiant and antisocial behaviours, anxiety and depression and mental health difficulties. Ouch.
On the other hand, children whose parents have developed self-determined motivation in them thrive at home and school. They experience more positive emotions, use positive coping strategies in stressful situations, have higher levels of concentration, persistence and effort, choose better friends, make good decisions, have fewer problems with drugs and alcohol, and ironically, accept more influence from their parents. And what parent doesn’t want that!?! So how can we cultivate self-determined motivation in our children?