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Motivation: Don't be like the Goldfish

As you probably know, kids have short attention spans. Well, so do goldfish with an attention span of about 9 seconds.

a goldfish has a longer attention span than humans.

Adults even struggle with their attentiveness, and a study from Microsoft found that, “since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds.”

Yes, as you’ve figured out, the length of the average human’s attention span is less than a mere goldfish.

The digital era doesn’t help things along, either. According to a report by the company, Accenture, “87% of consumers use more than one device at a time.”

We find ourselves watching Netflix, playing World of Warcraft, and looking at the latest sport scores simultaneously.

As leaders of young people, it has never been more important that we refrain from using too many Extrinsic Rewards! Colorful stickers and chotskies can be great for motivation. When used exclusively, this is what the student will begin to seek.

A child hasn’t well learned the concept of intrinsic motivation. Parents should be careful not to use too many external rewards, and often coax their kids to our classes by saying that they could learn a new stripe or a new belt, even going as far as bribing them with a treat after class. Instead of seeing the activity itself as positive, the child begins to associate it with a prize.

Adults, on the other hand, are more motivated by how the class makes them feel, learning to defend their families or making progress toward their weight loss goals.

Let’s teach our kids to be motivated by journeys of self-improvement, that the process itself is the reward.

Parents play a substantial role in the balancing act that is intrinsic versus

Extrinsic Motivation.

When it comes to extracurriculars, often we move our kids from one bright, shiny object to another in the pursuit of “their thing”. Meanwhile, they waste formative time that could be spent developing the life skills that will serve them well as adults.

We encourage parents to have their child take several trial classes in all sorts of activities to determine what they want to start, but after spending time in their choice activity, they should see it through.

When you’re a child, you think in the short-term. “If I go to one more soccer practice, I am just going to die.”

In reality, you won’t even remember the hour of soccer down the road. However, every hour of practice towards mastery is one builds upon the other serving to shape the future decisions that they will make.

Not to mention, your kid’s motivation has nothing to do with soccer. It could be a conflict with another teammate, frustration with a new skill, or perhaps they don’t like getting hot and sweaty. These are all things that they can and SHOULD overcome to build a formidable character.

Take Martial Arts. It isn’t about the kicking and punching. Yes, the repetition of each technique is what strengthens the body. But, the practice is what creates a formidable mind connecting the students with a lineage of warrior scholars that came before them.

Awarding one shiny belt after another is not teaching your child the value of hard work unless they really had to earn it. The samea goes for any external rewards such as trophies, ribbons, certificates, etc. In the end, we strive to teach that the journey is the reward.


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