Deci and Ryan
To be self determined is to endorse one's actions on the highest level of reflection
When self -determined people experience a sense of freedom to do what is interesting , personally important
Deci and Ryan 's Self Determined theory talks about we can foster the intrinsic motivation and true inner core self of kids. When Kids autonomy , competence and interrelatedness is supported we help kids to become self determined and have true self esteem. CPS – Collaborative problem solving supports these needs by promoting autonomy – kids is part of the solution and his concerns are put on the table , interrelatedness – the process is collaborative and the parents , others concerns are also put on the table , competence – the CPS process promotes life and cognitive skills.
Supporting your child's autonomy , his perception that he is the author and subject of his actions is very important to a child's socio-moral and academic development. As parents we would like to pass on ' values ' and be a guide for our children. We hope that these values are internalized and kids become committed to these values making them their own.
Kids may be compliant and act out values as a result of external controls such as demands , threats , bribes, rewards, punishments, consequences etc – their actions are externally regulated so the locus of control is not within the kid but external.
Sometimes behaviors appear to be internally motivated but in fact the locus of control is still external. Often kids' feeling of self worth and self esteem is contingent of how and if their parents express approval , acceptance and love or the opposite disappointment and disapproval that kids are not meeting their expectations. When kids behave in a way to please parents in order to gain their love and acceptance , their behavior is not an expression of the self but a desperate attempt to live a parents life for a bit of love and acceptance. This is called Introjected regulation of behavior , kids in a way are ' swallowing whole ' the values of their parents. They have become' introjets'.
When we 'do to kids '– demanding, telling, praising ( I don't mean neutral informational feedback), rewarding, punishing, consequensing we make kids into objects . When we ' work with children ' - ask questions , notice , make neutral and non-judgmental observations to lead into conversations we give children a voice and make them subjects. Instead of praise , we can ask a child why he decided to give the little boy a cookie ? When he begins to reflect – he becomes a subject , when he expresses how he felt after he gave the cookie and saw the boy's face light up , he learns he is a person whose feelings are important. What is important is not what mom or dad feels , whether they will express approval or not but his feelings, his intimate attempts to make meaning and feel an inner sense of pride. When we do to kids , they talks like objects – what will I get if I do this or what will be done to me if I do/don't do this ? Kids should be asking if what I do is an expression of the type of person I want to be , is it an expression of my true inner self ?
Deci and Ryan remind us that autonomy is not independence but interdependence and relatedness. Often rebellious and defiant kids feel that their ' resisting ' parental control or influence is an expression of autonomy and independence. The truth is they are acting like objects. They have chosen to have their lives controlled by their parents . Instead of perusing
their autonomy and furthering their goals and interests their lives are dominated by opposing their parents. They live according to the parents agenda. On the other hand kids who have good relationships with their parents and are supportive of the family benefit from parents who actively support their autonomy.
Although it seems that we are objects - life throws various situations at us , we don't create reality , but we do have a choice whether to react – be an object or make a well thought out response and be ' subjects'.
Instead of fostering 'introjets ' we can help kids identify with our values as personally important for them and even better when these values are assimilated with self so they are included in persons self evaluations and beliefs on personal needs. Kids become the 'ultimate subjects ' when they experience the 'non-self'. This happens when they are motivated by interest and enjoyment, and become so involved with what they are doing that they lose themselves in what they are doing . The actions, the goals , the experience is bigger than the person. Experiencing the non-self is what true self esteem is about.
Supporting autonomy includes strategies like encouraging children to solve their own problems , collaborate with them to solve problem and find mutually satisfying solutions , trying to see things from the child's point of view , entering his world , asking him advice , listening to his perspective and opinion , letting him express feelings, in short giving him a voice. This is what respect is all about - ensuring your kid becomes a subject , a person with a voice that counts .
A kid once said of his father – he loves me , he is dedicated to my well being , he will do anything for me – but he does not know me , he loves a virtual child.
'What kids need more than love is respect ' – Chazon Ish