Developing Internal Motivation

Another parenting tip from the National Center for Biblical Parenting…
Developing internal motivation in children is one of the fast tracks to help them toward maturity. Unfortunately, too often parents use external motivators to get their kids to move forward. “If you get your homework done then you can go out and play.” “If you clean your room then you can have some computer time.” This approach basically says, “If you do what I say, I’ll give you what you want.” Children trained this way often develop a mentality that focuses on external motivation instead of developing the internal motivations they’ll need to be responsible and mature.

God is interested in the heart. The heart contains motivations, emotions, convictions, and values. A heart-based approach to parenting looks deeper. When parents focus on the heart, then kids learn to ask the question, “What’s the right thing to do?”

A heart-based approach shares values and reasons behind rules. It requires more discussions with kids, helping children understand how their hearts are resistant and the need to develop cooperation. A heart-based approach is firm but also relational. It’s a different mindset for some parents and looks at the interaction of family life differently. Instead of simply getting the room cleaned and the dishes put away, parents are more interested in developing character, values, and convictions.

Another opportunity to focus on the heart is during times of correction. “I can see you’re angry because I said no. You need to take a break for a bit and settle your heart down and when you’re ready, come back and we’ll talk about it.” A heart approach requires a child to settle down first and then have a discussion with the parent about the problem and a better course of action. Address heart issues, not just behavior, and help children see things from a deeper perspective. Over time children will be able to understand what’s right and way, and internal motivation will come.


This parenting tip comes from the book The Christian Parenting Handbook: 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child's Life by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. 
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Milan Tomic

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2 comments:

  1. I can see the value of your basic premise, but then, practically, how do you build that internal motivation? And how does it come across without a discussion (about the values and reasons behind rules) leading them to feel that they don't have to obey the first time? I'm thinking back to what you've said before about "Obey, and then we'll talk about it"....

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  2. There are several ways that we build internal motivation on a practical level. In fact, I think we've identified about 10 of them in the book. Let me give you just one to get you started. Use honor instead of obedience to get something done in family life. For example, if your daughter leaves the bathroom counter a mess, you could use obedience by saying, "Go into the bathroom and clean up the counter." Rather, if you use honor you transfer responsibility to the child because honor does more than what's expected. You might instead say, "Go and do an honor check of the bathroom." Now you've transferred responsibility to the child to see what needs to be done and take action. You might also put on the chore chart "The Honor Thing" at the end. it's undefined but still required. The child must find one thing extra that needs to be done. Internal motivation builds obligation inside of a child and is the basis for responsibility. When parents look for ways to change the way they parent to teach internal motivation, kids develop it. That's a short answer but there are many more ideas in that book. Hope that helps a bit.

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