Extrinsic Vs. Intrinsic Rewards

Extrinsic Vs. Intrinsic Rewards

Parenting for Results

When parenting ot interacting with children we often give feedback as a reward. Reward, encouragement or a general response – our comments are of varying value.

     Intrinsic motivation moves a child in the direction of achieving  a goal because it makes them feel good, satisfied, or there’s another positive feeling generated from the action. Playing music or a sport because it’s fun as well as helping others because of the percieved joy it may bring to them are examples of ways intrinsic motivation is developed.

     Intrinsic motivation is portable- children carry it with them- find some self worth in accomplishments driven by their inner motivation and this builds on itself as a child matures.

     Extrinsic motivation is developed by external material or verbal reward comments. Cheering every bite of a meal or basic accomplishment will modify behavior such as eating or following a direction in the short run. In the long run it will leave children with an empty feeling when these exclamations are absent. The real world will be a disappointment when self motivation is necessary and work is not celebrated externally every time it is completed.

     In past articles I’ve written about authentic interaction. Celebrating an accomplishment when a child perseveres or gives their best effort is authentic. Saying, “Good girl or good boy” after most actions is inauthentic and a child sees through these comments. Children can feel authenticity and know when they can manipulate a situation . No reward no effort.This can easily happen when extrinsic reward is the motivator for tasks.

     How do we increase intrinsic motivation?

  1. For independent physical success allow children to physically explore their environment with you close at hand yet allowing them to balance and coordinate their bodies.
  2. Give age appropriate responsibilities. Toddlers will be glad to put away toys if the environment is set up enabling them to do so. Modelling the behavior and making clean up a natural transition to the next activity will encourage tasks to be completed successfully.
  3. Sticker charts are extrinsic motivation yet the goals ,if age appropriate will allow self satisfaction, developing intrinsic motivation upon completion.
  4. Allow time for your child to do things for themselves. Dressing and undressing, pouring a beverage or feeding themselves are all a process that will be accomplished with patience. An investment of time now that will pay off in the future. All of these approaches develop independence and a sense of stronger self worth.

These things are all part of the parenting challenge. You’re not alone. Go for it!

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My motivation to begin writing was a result of observing

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