Intrinsic Motivation

December 13, 2023

When children are intrinsically motivated, it means they are eager to do and perform based on their own pleasure in accomplishment, rather than the appeal of external rewards. Here are key tips to support intrinsic motivation:

  1. Explain to caregivers that rewards - like stickers - are best for behaviors that kids just need practice at, like toilet training or getting dressed independently. Caregivers want to try and avoid rewards around behaviors like kindness, telling the truth, or working hard - qualities that require intrinsic motivation.
  2. Ask patients if they feel proud of themselves for accomplishments, instead of expressing your own pride. For example, you may say, “Wow, are you feeling proud of how well you’ve been doing in school?” or, “How are you feeling about how well you’ve been taking your medicine?”
  3. Express confidence in your patient's ability to do hard things. You may say something like, “I know it feels hard, but you know how to do hard things.”


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