I’ve been reading a fantastic new book by Charles Duhigg. He is the author of The Power of Habit. The new book is every bit as good as the first one. What particularly struck me was Duhigg’s assertion that motivation can be taught. This would interest us as homeschoolers in particular and parents in general.
Through various examples, in Smarter, Faster, Better Duhigg says that people who are motivated and self directed usually have an “internal locus of control.”
The Key to Motivation
People with an internal locus of control are more self assured, get better grades, work harder, get paid more. They also tend to be married longer. An internal locus of control is a belief that people can do something to change the outcome of their future. It is knowing that it is not something out there that is in control, but they themselves.
Individuals with a strong internal locus of control believe events in their life derive primarily from their own actions: for example, when receiving exam results, people with an internal locus of control tend to praise or blame themselves and their abilities. People with a strong external locus of control tend to praise or blame external factors. – N.R.Carlson
The Way Forward
So based on this information, how do you motivate our children? Give them some control over their environment! It is another reason to avoid environments like public school that take choices away from children.
You really ought to read Duhigg’s book for the entire thrust of the argument along with the examples, but here’s the gist. If you want someone to be motivated, give him choices. Force them to make choices – often, even if they are small ones.
If you are dealing with unmotivated, lackadaisical children, try it. Give them more choices over their environment and watch them thrive.