Youth Development – What Motivates Children to Act?

What Motivates Children to Act?

Motivation is strongly linked to teaching and the learning process. It is a force moving us to act. It is focused on specific goals.
To maintain an appropriate level of motivation we should first and foremost know the children’s needs. Their satisfaction will affect the development of interests and maintain motivation at an appropriate level. Here they are:

The need to learn (to satisfy curiosity)

Satisfaction of this need becomes the child’s motivation to act in a completely unconscious manner. This applies mainly to children aged five to seven. It ensues from my experience that children willingly execute motor commands and tasks. They are fascinated by new forms of games. They like to do new, but simple motor exercises with a ball. I learned that my main duty is to nurture this need and enthusiasm to learn. Of course, we must here come up with creative tasks for the children. The tasks must develop interest (a love of football, for example). This will allow for more rapid assimilation of information and increase their willingness to participate in lessons.

The need for motion

Never in all my coaching/teaching career have I seen children worried by the fact that in a moment they will be participating in physical education classes. They have always been highly excited, interested, smiling. As a teacher, I am a model and an authority for them. That’s why I could not allow them to be disappointed. That would certainly make for very uninteresting and generally boring lessons. Knowing the need for motion, one can really experiment and inspire children to various forms of movement. A game often used is ‘creative movement’. This aims at coming up with new forms of movement. In other words, the child must not move in a boring way or repeat the same movement.


 The need for rivalry

On the principle ‘where there’s rivalry, there’s fun’, any type of competition is a goal and motivation in itself. The child learns balance between failure and success. It experiences them in various ways. Brain stimulation here however, must be individualised. That means it needs be slightly easier for the weaker and slightly harder for the stronger individual. I use the word ‘slightly’ on purpose. We mustn’t assume right away that a child cannot perform something. Let’s give it some time. Then we can gradually raise or lower the bar. In this way, we maintain the level of motivation at the same or a similar level. A sudden increase in the scale of difficulty of exercises can demotivate. For the simple reason that they will be too difficult. The child’s brain behaves the same way if an action is too easy.

The need to emulate

Children love to copy and are capable of doing so like no one else. The motivation to act may be cartoons, idols, and the pupils themselves. One can stimulate selected pupils individually. If someone can dribble the ball well, you might want to use him to show that to the others. In such a child, motivation will be even greater, due to a sense of pride and satisfaction that others will learn from him or her.

The need for development of creativity and freedom

Transmitted thinking and creativity is the power of all children. I don’t know any child that has no talent. Do you? As adults, we must realize that we are responsible for nurturing this need. In my opinion, the most important need. Because the child can really show what it is capable of, if only we enable it to do so. This will only happen when we give children freedom of choice, decision-making in the least structured environment. I always allow children so-called: creative invention. The very fact that they have freedom to choose positively motivates and encourages them to continue to work.

I develop transmitted thinking for instance in the way the child wants to act with the ball. Some will find several different ways to control the ball with their foot. Whereas others will use their hands for the same ends. The result? The youngsters will derive pleasure from the fact that they decide what to do with the ball.

 The need for inspiration

Inspiration can come from various sources and in itself is the leading motivation to excite and stimulate the child’s nervous system. For some it will be the teacher or coach (I want to believe that is so in most cases). So how I speak, what my body language tells them, and what my lessons are like is a source of inspiration for my pupils. In my career, I have never taken this for granted. I want the youngsters to remember me as someone who positively influenced and inspired them to act.

The need for achievement

Whether we use games or other forms of fun or are teaching maths, etc., the child being taught must have an achievement for which to strive. This goal may vary, depending on age, personality, and psychological development. The child then realizes that it is perfecting an ability and doing something for a particular purpose.