(Written by Edgar Chekera, @psych_chek)
Getting kids active is vital for this generation due to the rise of technology, obesity, and health-related illness. Therefore, a stronger form of motivation needs to be created within children to ensure they are motivated to stay active throughout their life.
There are multiple reasons to why a child may not want to be active; they may rather stay inside and play the latest video game, they may not feel like it’s necessary for their health, or they may feel like they’re being forced into doing it.
Did you know, simply giving a reward for being active doesn’t mean the child is highly motivated to be physically active? They may only be motivated by the expectation of getting the reward instead of being motivated to be active. However, if we design activities to meet three basic human needs this weaker form of motivation can shift to stronger forms of motivation where children personally value being active.
The three 'needs' and how to address them...
As humans we are social creatures so need to feel connected with those around us. To meet this need, children should be involved in the same activity and encouraged to work together.
We also need to feel a sense of control. This can be met through providing children with options of activities and allowing them to choose which one they wish to partake in. In some cases this may not be possible, meaning an explanation of why children are taking part in the certain activity is necessary (e.g. it’s necessary to master the basics before attempting something more difficult).
Finally, we have a need for progress/accomplishment. This can be done through setting challenging yet achievable activities. Tasks too difficult or easy would move the child to a weaker form of motivation.
From addressing these three needs, we can enhance stronger forms of motivation for children and engagement in being physically active.