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.
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.
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?
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 do something because they feel good about it.
When you give a child a hug, it tells them that you value their effort. Intrinsic rewards lead to higher self-confidence and self-esteem.
The next time a preschooler looks up at you all bright-eyed and says: “I did it all by myself!!” You are seeing the makings of intrinsic motivation. A healthy hug or high five and “good job” will help reinforce that intrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is far more complex than this little post is going to cover but it is important to understand the simple difference between getting a preschooler to do something because it is internally rewarding versus always looking for an external reward.
Read a little more about stickers and hugs
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