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This Orchid Raiser mom had tried SO MANY things to get her child motivated to go to school on time. 

Sticker charts, rewards, bribes, positive reinforcement, natural consequences, long negotiations and pressure from parents, threats of punishment, cash – she’d tried everything.

But it remained difficult. Until the day her child was invited to be part of the Safety Patrol.

On Tuesdays, Child would now have the morning shift on the Safety Patrol Squad at school, which means they’d have to arrive EARLY due to these extra responsibilities.

Cue the “Mom, I can’t be late on Tuesdays!” quote.

What changed? 

Tapping the child’s sense of INtrinsic motivation to be helpful and useful.

All the stuff mom had tried before were examples of EXtrinsic motivators that we try (and often fail) to use on kids to Get Them To Do Things.

They sometimes work in the near-term.

They mostly fail in the long-term.


Because the most powerful motivators are INtrinsic. Internal. From our own selves.

This can come from our own special interests, which we’ll talk about next week.

And, intrinsic motivation can also come from tapping into the human desire to be a necessary, useful, integrated and participating member of the group.

That’s what happened for this child: being on the Safety Patrol made them NECESSARY. It made them IMPORTANT. It made them BELONG.

We sometimes forget – because Orchid Kids struggle with so much – that they are capable of contributing. It just takes a bit more work and creativity to figure out how sometimes.

We sometimes forget – in our hustle, hurry culture – that kids need time to practice skills before they master them. We might sacrifice short term efficiency for long term mastery.

We sometimes forget that allowing for space, opportunity and guidance are the things that foster intrinsic motivation (and skill acquisition) in the Small Humans.

What are some things that your child might be motivated to do at home that will help contribute to the household? What are the things they love to do at school that might help them get out the door in the morning? What are you and they struggling with that might need an injection of intrinsic motivation somewhere?

Will you let me know?

xo G

PS – next week, we’ll talk about the intersection of special interests, intrinsic motivation and why that matters a lot for Orchid Kids.

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