As soon as they are born, infants are already fueled by motivation to learn about the world. Through suckling a pacifier, they learn how to best position it to soothe themselves and know when their mouth isn’t in full control of the pacifier. This type of motivation called mastery helps infants and toddlers learn faster and be in control of the objects or their environment.
As infants and young children learn using mastery motivation, research also shows that mothers and caregivers who are not quick to interfere or respond, allowing the child to discover and explore on their own, encourage these children to become more competent and have a stronger drive to learn using mastery motivation. Meanwhile, parents and caregivers who lead children while playing, having a hand in every object a child plays with can lessen a child’s need for self-discovery and motivation.
When it comes to motivating children, there are two types of motivation, depending on where the reinforcement comes from–external or internal.
Extrinsic motivation refers to external rewards a child receives upon completing a task or activity. This may come in the form of stars, praise, words of encouragement, clapping, trophies, medals, food, or activity. Extrinsic motivation, used moderately, can boost a child’s self-confidence and self-efficacy which in turn translates to better self-esteem. It gives a child immediate feedback on his behaviour.