Real Talk, Motivation, what it is, where it comes from and how to get more.

One of the biggest complaints I hear in the frustration of achieving outcomes is not enough motivation either for ourselves or from the kids.

The reality is, we are always motivated, we are born with motivation. 

Ok ok, I know, the kids don’t seem to be motivated to follow instructions.  They’re so darn selfish.

Hear me out.

In the beginning

Our motivation is really simple.  We want to survive; aka have our needs met. 

The first level of the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that enable life.

In that first year or so, it’s all about food, shelter and protection.

Sure hopefully we are also building attachment and attunement, but from the baby’s perspective, they’re not focused on anything but those basic needs. 

At this stage their brain is only wired to be fed and watered, the expectations is that we, their carer/s, do everything else they need for them.

Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up.



It’s why those first few years are in the me, me, me phase of development, and oh, what about me. 

They are completely self-absorbed and developmentally appropriately so.

According to the 2015 study Origins of Narcissism in Children co-author Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University says “Before age 8 every kid is a narcissist. By age 8 they have typically outgrown the unrealistically positive, inflated self-views that are normative for younger children”


The Presupposition

When we say the kids aren’t motivated, that presupposes that they aren’t doing what they need.  

Whereas it’s usually related to them not meeting our expressed desire or expectation.  

However, as children are driven to please us (in their own pre-reasoning and logic way), if they aren’t meeting our expressed want, it’ worth getting curious about what could be going on for them.

The more we expect the kids to follow and meet our expectations first ahead of their needs, especially in the beginning, the less likely they will learn how to be self-motivated.

Its appreciating that there is a difference between what they need, and what they may be expressing they want.

What they need is to be seen, heard, and accepted as they are.


The kicker 

When we operate as if they must meet our expectations first, what we do, even though is unlikely our intention, we send the message that there are not valued or important.

They then hit that self-actualisation phase of development and we have conditioned them to seek external stimulus, ie us giving them instructions.  In wanting to have our needs met first, we actually undermine our own desires for them to be developing intrinsic motivation.

Without conscious intention we are also violating their boundaries.  For many of us, it’s amongst the reasons we get so triggered.

My story.

It’s tough for those of us who potentially have poor personal boundaries is figuring out where the lines are.

I remember when I was about 13, and my mum and I were having this “animated discussion”, because she wanted me to just do as I was told.  Then she said, with deep frustration.  

“I was told that when I grew up, I’d get to make the rules, so why can’t you just do as I ask?”

Said it all.

For her, she’d been taught that kids don’t have a right to personal views.  So it was tough for her to have these teen and tweenagers pushing back and having opinions.

She’d not had the opportunity to feel accepted, seen and heard.  

It’s part of the delicate road of parenting.  Walking the tightrope of enough guidance to support them with their progress and development and taking over to protect them from hurt or injury, or letting them take charge, which is often so that we don’t get our feelings hurt.


The Challenge

Our motivation for the way we approach the child management is usually from a good place.  The problem is, it’s often more to do with us and what we are afraid might happen if we take the lead from them.

What modern, 21st century parenting is about is accepting that the way parenting was modelled to us has some gaps.  

That to enable well-rounded, emotionally intelligent, motivated and self-lead children, we must work at it from the beginning.

If the kids are older, it’s not too late, it might take some extra work.  Afterall, you’ll be changing the ground rules.  Even though they will be more empowering for them, they’ll still likely need to test out whether you’ll stay the course.

If kids are older, they’ve already adjusted to the lay of the land.  So even though we are making positive changes, that is still a little intimidating or scary for kids, who cope better in a consistent environment.

I doesn’t mean don’t change, it does mean that you might need to do more preparation and work together towards the new model. 

It really is Conscious Wholehearted Parenting in action.



The solution

That when we take the lead from our child, the solution is usually much easier to implement, because it comes from their natural flow, rather than us trying to fit them into the box we believe is right.

We adults have already been through the evolution and expansion of our skills.

Depending on how our parents approached the whole getting us to do things process as to what personal hurdles we might have to overcome.

Our own internal programming, ie the nurture, will win out in times of stress, unless the sound track has been updated.

If you’re still figuring out the flow of your child,
then let’s connect so you can get clarity on how to motivate them even more effectively.

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to meet the needs of Adulting in the 21st century.

Author – Leanne G Wakeling – Relationship and Communication Coach, Parenting Mentor, Behaviour and Thinking Styles Profiler.