As a mother, wife and physician I have witnessed firsthand the power of motivation. I believe what gets us through life from infancy to our senior years, for good or for bad, is the variation on the role we play to either be motivated to do something or have someone else do something for us.
My newest grandson, Alex, understands that if he smiles someone will come pick him up. If he puckers his face and cries he knows a bottle is shortly on its way. At 4 months he knows what to do to get what he wants.
Another grandson, Logan once grabbed his dad’s $350 Oakley sunglasses. I stood up petrified and ran to him fearful he was going to break them. I would have given him anything he wanted to just put the glasses down. Who would figure a two year old would already know the power of motivation by simple distraction? I sure didn’t. And while I certainly worry about Logan’s health and dental care I still got him a cookie, the very one we had been telling him he couldn’t have until after dinner.
So it got me thinking about motivation, what do babes and kids really know and practice? They inherently seem to know good food, a loving embrace and even a snack or toy can be achieved through the power of the individual’s undeniable use of the power of motivation or the manipulation of this action.
And it is just not the little ones, older kids are equally manipulative. Ever try to teach a three or four year old? I did and it isn’t the easiest thing to do when their attention span is only about what? 30 seconds. Well, I found my grandkids learned how to achieve goals best by providing activities with positive feedback, bribes if you will. “Sean please (I begged) come and make poo-poo and Grammy will give you a toy.”
My word though, when little ones turn 3 or 4 it all changes doesn’t? It isn’t always cute. I watched this woman at the store with her little girl the other day. The child was sitting on the floor and screaming. She had everyone within hearing range practically insane. Her mom, trying to fix the situation, rolled her eyes, picked up some thing off the shelf, tossed it to the child, which instantly shut her up, thankfully to us whose ears were now bleeding.
While the situation was fixed, for us, the mom, unfortunately, just reinforced a bad situation. This little girl knew exactly what she was doing. She was manipulating mom until she got exactly what she wanted. So strange, don’t you think? how kids can pick up on the fact we hate being embarrassed and then they use this to get exactly what they want. Just try telling one “no” in public.
Yea, but you say wait what about school age kids? I promise you threats don’t make it anymore. I found the old standby, “Clean your room and pick up the kitchen or I will cut off your hair doesn’t work.” My kids were smart enough to know I wouldn’t do it. So, I had to become more creative. The point being I had to work to find something that would motivate the guys to action.
If I made the reward something important to them I wanted them to work for it. I really wanted my kids to be self-motivators because in this world to get what you want you have to do something. As you know driving is a big responsibility and it really should be for responsible people. I found this was a great tool in teaching positive motivation. So fortunately in their teens I had one more tool in my arsenal – the car. I still smile at the things I had my kids do when they wanted to drive. I bet I had the cleanest garage in town and I never, in three years, picked up after the dogs. It was Heaven.
Unfortunately, once they got that license I was virtually done teaching motivation by threats. Sadly, all I have left now is my money, which can be a pretty powerful incentive. There are much greater motivating factors though; addiction. As we continue through this series on the power of motivation we will cover the power of negative and positive motivation.
I encourage you to take a look around this week and see what you are doing what gets you internally motivated; things that make you happy, and externally motivated; meaning you were given something for doing something to make another happy. It may surprise you at how many little things we do just to have the approval of someone else.