The word intrinsic means “belonging naturally; essential” (essential as in; the essence of something).
When you think of intrinsic motivation, it’s helpful to imagine what “reward” comes naturally to a task or goal. For example, having a nice smelling kitchen with dishes that are always readily available is are “built in” rewards for keeping the sink free of messy dishes, and is therefor an intrinsically motivating factor to do the dishes.
The term internal motivation is often used to mean the same thing, but is a slightly different emphasis. A person’s internal motivation is the motivation that comes from themselves, naturally. For example, my son is motivated to play with his trucks, because he is curious and enjoys the way the wheels allow his truck to move. This is a motivation that he has found himself, without outside imposition.
External motivation are motivations that come from outside of a given goal, or outside a person’s naturally-found motivations.
Like being given a gold star for hard work, or being given candy for good behavior, these external motivators have nothing to do with the goal accomplished.
They’re seen by most gentle parents to be the carrot, juxtaposed with the stick of punishment; essentially the “positive” version of a punishment.
Contrasted with the more traditional “time out”, time in is not forced on a child, and it is not about isolation or making a child “sit here until they calm down”.
Time in is a time for a child to voluntarily sit with you or by themselves to take moment (or two) for self-regulation.
Some GP families have certain spaces designated for time in, such as an unlocked closet with coloring materials and a comfy chair, or a special corner with books or sensory materials to help calm down. Some children find that more physical activity, like going for a walk, is a good option for time in.
“Feeling what someone else is feeling” is an easy way to remember what empathy is.
Whereas sympathy is a shared understanding of an emotion you both experience (E.g. you’ve both been fired and can “sympathize” with each other) -or- the feelings of pity you have for someone in pain, empathy is seeing what someone else is feeling, and to a degree, feel it yourself.
It is essential to the health of all relationships a person may have.
The ability to understand and feel another’s experience for yourself, allows you the ability to better listen and communicate, and also share in the sadness and joys of life with others.
Connection is the moment of physical or verbal recognition of another’s presence and emotional state.
Eye contact, verbal affirmations, listening intently, welcomed hugs, etc. are all ways we connect with each other on a daily basis. Overtime, consistent connection between a parent and their child (or any two people, really) naturally leads to a strong bond of empathy and trust.
Trust Based Relationships
As children of God, the reason we obey is because we know the love of a good, wise, and trust-worthy Father, not out of fear of punishment.
For the gentle Christian parent, that is the type of relationship we strive to build with our children.
The trust in trust based relationships is not simply trust that someone won’t maliciously harm you, or trust someone will “catch you when you fall”.
It means we that make sure that our child can trust us to take their thoughts, opinions, and personal boundaries into consideration when making decisions; the same as we would with any other “neighbor”. It also means that we strive for them to know our love and respect, so that when we have to make a decision they don’t like, they can trust our love for them and wisdom God has given us.
Sportscasting is when a person communicates to someone else exactly what they’ve noticed in any given situation like an argument or an accident -without assuming emotions or intentions- before trying and help problem solve.
“I see that you can’t find the right lego to finish that project. It can be hard to keep track of these little pieces sometimes, huh?”
“Oh yeah, I see she knocked over your sandcastle while you were still building. I hear how frustrated you are!”
Sportscasting is especially important in dealing with heated situations, as it allows for a moment of clarity in a high-emotion situation.
It lets children know that we hear them, see them, and understand what’s happening, without interjecting our interpretations of the circumstances before they have the chance to process with us.
It assures them that we trust them to take care of it themselves, while still being with them to help.
A yes space is an area or room that is safe for a child to play alone without interference from an adult. It should be a place that you would feel completely comfortable leaving them while you make dinner. (Though it’s still advised that you regularly check in on them!)
Much of a child’s world is outside of their control and in the hands of caretakers, and there is much that is off-limits for them. Therefor a space where they can be “in charge” and freely able to explore is really important for the development of their independence and creativity.
Free Play is play that is completely initiated by the child. It is unscheduled, unregulated play that may or may not involve the parent or caretaker. (Though this doesn’t mean parents or caretakers are completely absent. Even if not physically present, it’s important for a child to know they have the support of an adult nearby.)
Allowing children (from babyhood all the way up!) the freedom to play without structure imposed by adults is essential in the development of many things, particularly independence and creativity, just like a yes space.
Free Play is also important for children in a group. It helps them organically learn how to negotiate, empathize, and work together as a team! The freedom to stop playing is also a key part of free play, particularly in groups. The voluntary nature of free play naturally urges children to think of others, and to respect boundaries.
Until next time!