8 Steps for Empowering Children with Intrinsic Motivation - aifc

Of the many factors that can predict a student’s failure, the lack of intrinsic motivation (the ability to internally motivate yourself to accomplish a desired task) is the main reason for most students. The purpose of this post is not to parse through the specific contributing factors that lead to a lack of intrinsic motivation. Instead, I want to address how you, parents, can empower your children to become more intrinsically motivated.

The earlier and more consistently you can integrate these ideas in your child-rearing, the more likely your children will develop an intrinsically motivated mindset.

  1. Expect self-discipline Do not bribe for tasks that are age-appropriately expected. If your child needs to be bribed to get out of bed in the morning with a trip to Starbucks, your child is not going to get out of bed without a trip to Starbucks. And he or she won’t develop the self-discipline required to do it without bribery. The same can be said of any other age-appropriate task (cleaning room, cleaning self, doing homework, doing chores, and so on).

  2. Whenever possible, give your kids autonomy to set their own course. An effective strategy that I’ve seen used splendidly is to provide several choices when you want to see something get done. (Will you do it now or this afternoon? Which book will you choose for your book report?) When you are able, allow students to be unfettered in determining their learning directives. This grants young people the self-determination they desire without the power struggle.

  3. Set the bar high!  Talk about school, learning, and personal development as if they are never-ending quests for doing better. Perfect is not possible (it is important to acknowledge that), but taking risks, failing, learning, and “going back at it” are imperative for students to learn to value learning. Make learning and growing as much about the process as about the results.

  4. Increase your child’s personal value by making self-advocacy an expectation. Help students experience success and failure because they take healthy risks in trying to get what they need and they want to be successful. For many students, raising a hand in class and pursuing unknown knowledge can be daunting. Students who lack intrinsic motivation, are regularly battling self-talk that tells them they can’t understand the content and they can’t succeed in mastering it. Push them to challenge these fears and negative messages and take charge of their own learning.

  5. Help your child identify and specifically label what they want. No student wants to be a chronic academic failure. Most young people do not understand how their actions and mindsets set them up to succeed, or to learn from failure. Help students publicly proclaim what they want and how they intend to get it. When they fail, debrief how it happened and how they intend to change their course next time to get what they want.

  6. Have your child develop a plan that will result in what he or she wants. Obviously, following through with the plan will be challenging, but with standard setting, realistic goals, and time invested accountability, a student can rise to the occasion.

  7. Show what hard work gets you. Students who lack intrinsic motivation don’t see and experience the negative impact their mindset is having on their future. Helping students understand the credentials necessary to get them what they want is important for them to see the path to get where they want to go.

  8. Relentlessly articulate the importance of the journey. Students who lack intrinsic motivation often suffer from negative self-talk that poisons their ability to pursue what they want. Make it as much about the process as it is about the result. I understand and acknowledge that results matter, but learning from the process matters more when it comes to developing intrinsic motivation.

In any context, students who work to their potential have elements of intrinsic motivation. As parents, our task is to help our children position themselves to be lifelong learners. All lifelong learners grow into being intrinsically motivated to pursue personal growth. If parents intentionally build up the intrinsic motivation of their children, they will see growing, motivated, and resilient young adults grow before their very eyes.


Trevor Simpson  –  Peak Perspective  –  Adolescent Mental Health Coach

Originally Posted on Amy Simpson Online

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For those who would like to enrol in aifc’s accredited Christian counselling courses we have two intakes per year for courses commencing around the following months:

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Studying at aifc

Have you thought about becoming a qualified counsellor? It’s a great opportunity to learn how you can extend God's love and grace to the hurting out in the community.

For those who would like to enrol in aifc’s accredited Christian counselling courses we have two intakes per year for courses commencing around the following months:

  • The beginning of each year in February
  • Mid-Year courses commence in July

Enrolment Season - opens approximately 2 months prior to our courses commencing. Enrol online here during our enrolment season.

We also offer two modes of study:

  1. Seminar Blended Mode - only 13 face-to-face days per year
  2. Online Supported Mode - study online only from anywhere

A Master of Counselling course was introduced in 2018.

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Nicholas Marks, CEO aifc

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