Understanding motivation to foster inspiration in our children

There are 4 main types of motivation as identified by researches Richard Ryan and Edward Deci in their book entitled 'Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behaviour'.

These 4 types of motivation begin with external motivating factors (extrinsic motivation) and move inwards towards internal motivating factors (intrinsic motivation). The researches say a person’s desire and will to pursue a given task increases as we move inwards from externally factors to internal ones.

Briefly, here are the 4 types of motivation beginning with the external and progressively moving inward.

  1. External regulation- An individual engages in an activity not for the sake of the activity but for the sole purpose of receiving a reward and/or avoiding punishment.
  2. Introjection- An Individual engages in an activity not for the sake of the activity but to maintain or enhance self-esteem.
  3. Identification- A Individual engages in an activity not for the sake of the activity but because the fulfilment of the activity will result in them attaining something which they personally value.
  4. Integration- An Individual engages in the activity for the sake of the activity and because fulfilment of the activity will result in them attaining something which they personally value. The activity and the outcome has been recognised as personally valuable.

Dr. John Demartini in his book 'The Values Factor' (Demartini J, F. 2013) argues that the only way a person can be truly inspired is when they are living according to their highest values, meaning that which they find most meaningful. Demartini goes on to say that every single individual, much like a finger print, has their own unique set of values.

This value system can be viewed as a hierarchy. Intrinsic values are the highest values, valuable for their own sake. Whilst extrinsic values are the lowest valuable and seen as a means to an end.

These perceived values emerge as a result of a person’s conscious or unconscious perceived voids.

Demartini defines a void as that which is perceived to be most missing. What is perceived to be most missing becomes most important.

The author continues by explaining that what is most important is what a person would love to bring into their sphere of awareness.

For example, if a person perceives they do not have a meaningful relationship they will seek such a relationship. It they perceive they do not have sufficient money they will seek money. An individual would not be inspired from within to fulfil such a void if it were not for the conscious or unconscious void determining and initiating the drive. The author asserts that a persons perceived voids creates their values.

To determine an individual’s hierarchy of values Demartini insists that you must look past what the person says and look to what their life demonstrates. To this end the author has developed a set of questions to help illicit a person hierarchy of values.

Once an individual’s hierarchy of values has been determined it is possible to see where they are truly inspired in this moment.

As acknowledged by Deci and Ryan many of the educational activities prescribed in schools are not designed to be intrinsically interesting. Demartini’s solution to this is to link the students highest value to the subject matter on hand.

A specific and replicable process needs to take place where the student is helped to see, understand and internalise how mastering the topic at hand is completely congruent with them meeting their present highest value in the moment.

In summary

This research theorises that we are inspired in the area of our highest value . Our life, not the stories we tell ourselves, demonstrates what is truly important to us. Once we take the time to understand our children’s hierarchy of values, we have the ability then to see where they are presently inspired and to acknowledge what is most important to them.

It is then possible to work with our children to create links in the mind between what we feel is important for them to learn and that which is truly important to them. Once a person sees what they are doing is in line with and serving their highest value, the desire to do and will to push through challenges grows ever stronger.

If you found this interesting and would like to understand more about fostering intrinsic motivation in your child, please do not hesitate to make contact with us.


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