Monday, November 15, 2010

Motivation behind positive or negative behaviors - CPS and SDT

1 I don't think kids are motivated to act in an inappropriate way - negative behavior is more about lacking skills , lack of trust and acceptance and maybe trying to fit in with a negative group.

CPS says that kids do well if they can and not - kids do well if they want to. Kids would prefer

to do well , be successful , behave adaptively and fit in rather than be in trouble and playing cat and mouse with the adults in their lives. So kids are already motivated, the preferred choice is to be successful. Their maladaptive behavior is a sign that they don't have the coping skills to deal with situations. They cannot express their autonomy because they don't have the coping skills. What happens in reality is parents or teachers see this as a motivation problem , so they try to find ways to help the kid to ' wanna ' behave himself.

According to Self Determined Theory SDT , kids express and perceive autonomy when they are connected to their inner core values and their decisions reflect themselves. Autonomy is not independence , it is not about kids expressing independence by resisting adult control. This is the actual paradox that teenagers often fail to get. When they are so busy resisting adult control or involvement , trying to show that adults can't make them do anything or control them , we find that for these kids are choosing their parents agenda , the agenda is actually being set by the parents , their whole lives are dictated by what their parents or teachers do. They don't have the skills to further their interests and support their autonomy in an appropriate way. This leads conflict and bad feelings which prevents kids from benefiting from ' relatedness ' . The emotional baggage undermines relatedness and thereby autonomy.

The controlling and punitive approach in dealing with these kids undermines the possibility of ever creating a trusting relationship between adults and kids. This lack of trust gets in the way of ' autonomy' as kids are focused on surviving the cat and mouse scenario , negative relatedness.

Relatedness in a positive sense , ie positive relationships can trigger non-appropriate behavior. These challenging kids are generally not accepted by their parents as they fail to behave or do OK at school. Because they are conditionally accepted by their parents , they find a ' safe place to land ' amongst negative peers. They are not accepted amongst peers because of their behaviors but feel respected , feel a sense of worth by negative peers or other gang members. What these kids don't get from parents , teachers and peers , they will find elsewhere. Being part of a gang or a negative group may mean that the kid wants to prove himself and therefore engage in inappropriate behavior. These behaviors are not expressions of autonomy but a compensation for the lack of acceptance .

2 Motivation to not engage in negative behavior maybe purely extrinsic to avoid consequences . Intrinsic motivation is only likely when kids can express their autonomy , when they have the skills to act in a competent way and they trust other people.

I think we should look at whether inappropriate behaviors are self – determined or not rather whether kids are motivated or not . Because kids can be motivated to do well , but because their needs of perceived competence and competence itself and relatedness are not being met or actualized , they cannot be self-determined.


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