Stickers and Hugs

Trying to get preschoolers to do something they don’t particularly find fun can be a challenge to even the best mom or preschool teacher.

Internal and external motivation - A brief discussion

Handing out stickers, stamps, and other little gadgets is a common practice in preschool but relying on this to truly build inner motivation is not enough. What happens when the stickers run out? Will the preschooler still do what he or she is asked?

Stickers is an easy word to help remember the term “extrinsic motivation.” Giving a child a sticker to get him or her to do something is an example of extrinsic motivation.

What we ultimately want to foster is the internal motivation to do the right thing – to do the nice thing – to care about our friends and the concerns of others. Not because a sticker is waiting at the end of the task, but because it makes us feel good inside.

Hugs is an easy word to help remember the term “intrinsic motivation“. I chose this word because a hug feels good and warm both on the outside and on the inside. Ultimately we want preschoolers to make positive and constructive choices about their own behavior because deep down inside, they want to make those choices and in many ways, it is like a hug – it just feels plain good.Intrinsic rewards lead to higher self-confidence and self-esteem.┬áThe next time you see a child making choices to participate in an activity or help with clean up time or wait for a turn without the expectation of a sticker, you are seeing the makings of intrinsic motivation.Intrinsic motivation is far more complex than this little post is going to cover but it is important to be aware of the differences between internal and external rewards.

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  1. says

    When my Little Dude does something on his own, we give a high-five and a hug. It’s nice to know we’re doing something right!
    Thanks for the great information here on your blog!

  2. says

    I found your blog from a post on Refrigerator Artist. ‘

    What a wonderful post and a fantastic reminder. I definitely want my daughters to be motivated in life by the appreciating the internal rewards, especially when we live in a society that puts so much emphasis on external rewards and instant gratification.