(The following post What Really Motivates Kids? by Michael Mascolo, Ph.D., recently appeared on psychologytoday.com. To view it in its entirety click on there link below.)
What motivates Molly to do her math homework? Her inherent love of mathematics? Probably not. In general, we don’t first love mathematics and therefore do mathematics. It’s just the opposite: We come to love mathematics when we get good at it.
What will motivate Molly to do her homework? The promise of prizes from her mother? Perhaps. But only as long as the prizes keep coming. And only as long as Molly is interested in the prizes. And then, she’ll be motivated to get the prize, not to do her homeworkor to learn mathematics.
What will motivate Molly to do her homework? Our deepest motivations come from our identification with some system of values. Our deepest motivations develop slowly over time through the thousands of interactions we have with the important people in our lives. Our deepest motives consist of our attempt to live up to valued images of success — images of who we are and who we want to become.
Contrary to popular belief, such valued images do not simply spring up from inside of us. Nor are they simply handed down to us from our parents or elders. Our identities – our theories of ourselves – develop slowly in countless interactions with parents, teachers, mentors, friends, peers, and so forth.
Our identities – our valued theories of ourselves – are powerful motivators. When we identify ourselves with a set of values, images and ideals, we become motivated to uphold those values, images and ideals. After all, those values and ideals become who we are; they become our selves.
The Value of Internalizing Values
There are many ways in which parents attempt to influence their children. Here are three of them:
Power Assertion. Parents have more power than their children. As a result, parents can get children to do quite a lot of things simply by virtue of the parent’s greater power. The parent can punish children, threaten to punish children, withhold privileges, use anger to scare children into compliance, and so forth.
Love Withdrawal. Children want their parents to love them. Parents use the strategy of love withdrawal when they explicitly or implicitly make their love for the children contingent on a child’s behavior. Examples of love withdrawal can range from the explicit: “I don’t like you when you don’t do your homework” to sulking or withdrawing affection from children when they misbehave.
Value Induction. Value induction involves the simple attempt to explain the reasons why any given behavior is desirable or misbehavior is undesirable. When a parent explains the real reasons why he or she values some behavior, children are more likely to appreciate those values and internalize them.
Which of these three techniques is the most powerful one? Power assertion and love withdrawal are powerful ways to prompt children to comply with a parent’s wishes. However, they work only in the short term – only when the parent is present. Decades of research unambiguously shows that value induction is the only mode of influencing children that has lasting benefits. Children who understand and appreciate a parent’s values are more likely to internalize them and act on them.
I Act on My Theory of Who I Want to Be
We are, in part, who we think we are. We are, in part, the mindset through which we view ourselves and the world. Who we think we are — our identities – are a kind of “theory”. An identity is a kind of “theory of myself”.
We act on the basis of our theories of who we want to be. Johnny wants to be a star football player. He wants the status and adulation that comes from that identity. Being a football star is one way that he can achieve a sense of worth. He values being a football star.
The desire to be a football star is a kind of identification. I identify with the football star. I want to be able to identify myself as a football star.
But there’s more to life than football. What identifies should we really value? What identifications should we try to promote in our children?
Our most powerful motives come from our identifications. We value some way of being and work to identify ourselves that that way of being.
The key to cultivating motivation in children is to ask continuously: How can I help my child build a worthy theory of him or herself? What am I doing to help my child identify him or herself with a set of values?
More than 60 countries require GMO labeling (or ban GMOs altogether) for a number of reasons. While there are many, these are some of the most common concerns:
1. Are they safe? Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Dow—they’ll all tell you their GMO products have met safety requirements, but the truth is, long term studies haven’t been done on their impact to the human body. USDA approval requires several processes that prove safety, but GMOs have only been in our diet since the mid-’90s, so it’s difficult to know what the long-term health impacts truly are.
2. Known health risks: What we do know is that when genetic modification happens, genes are forced to express certain traits (including pesticides). To do this, the scientists “turn on” all the gene’s components, which can mean releasing allergens that would normally not be expressed in a non-GMO variety. Experts like Jeffrey Smith suggest this is directly related to the rise in health issues.
3. Heavy use of toxic pesticides and herbicides: By design, genetically modified seeds require pesticides and herbicides. While some manufacturers have claimed the pesticide use would decrease over time, it’s only increased, according to a peer-reviewed 2012 study.
4. Pesticides and digestive health: The main function of herbicides and pesticides is to kill unwanted plants and insects. Glyphosate—the most common herbicide used on GMO crops—has been shown to negatively impact the gut bacteria of humans. Jeffrey Smith’s recent film Genetic Roulette highlights the parallel of GMOs in our diet and the rise in digestive health issues and food allergies.
5. Cancer: Both pesticides and GMOs have been connected with an increased risk of certain types of cancer. There are additonal health concerns too including reproductive issues, autism and even heart disease.
6. Environmental impact: GMO crops and their companion pesticides and herbicides wreak havoc on the environment including polluting air, water and soil. Glyphosate—marketed by Monsanto as the herbicide Roundup—is in effect, an antibiotic, which can destroy soil quality and thus impair the plant’s nutritional value as well. Cross-polination between GMO and non-GMO crops is common as well, and can destroy natural plant varieties in the wild.
7. Superbugs and superweeds: Despite the claims that pesticides and GMO crops can relieve farmers of crop-destroying insects and plants, the opposite is showing to be true. Farmers in the Midwest are now battling superbugs and superweeds resistant to pesticides. They’re damaging crops and farm equipment and costing the farmers more money in having to apply heavier doses of toxic pesticides.
8. Patent issues: At the core of the GMO industry is the corporate ownership of seed and seed patents. Companies like Monsanto are notorious for suing small farmers for saving seeds or if GMO crop drift pollinates on their land.
9. Corporate protection: Earlier this year, the U.S. government passed a bill nicknamed the “Monsanto Protection Act.” In essence, it grants biotech companies immunity from the courts, even if a judge determines it’s unlawful to plant GMO crops, the companies can do it anyway.
10. Prolific presence: Whether or not GMOs are safe has yet to be determined, yet every day, millions of Americans eat them unknowingly due to the lack of labeling requirements. Are you a lab rat? Don’t you at least have the right to know what you’re eating?
Original article by Andrea Donsky for Naturally Savvy (please check for references)
(The following excerpt from How Technical Devices Influence Children’s Brains by Carrie Barron, M.D., recently appeared on psychologytoday.com. To view it in its entirety click on the link below.)
This guest blog, by my colleague and friend, Daniel Riseman, children’s book author and President of Riseman Educational Consulting, explains the impact of excessive use of devices in, “The Reconfiguration of Children’s Brains”.
Digital natives fill up classrooms across the country. These are the children and adolescents who have grown up online with their iPads, smartphones, and gaming consoles. Their free time is monopolized by their handheld devices; rather than play outside, many young people are fixated on their virtual worlds. However, escaping reality comes with serious consequences. Neuroscientists have discovered many associated dangers that come with the overuse of online activity. The American Academy of Pediatrics has instituted strict guidelines per a child’s exposure to technology: infants should have no contact; 3-5 year olds are allocated one hour per day, and 6-18 year olds are allotted two hours per day (“Preschool Matters,” p. 2). In spite of these guidelines, young people, on average, are online four times the recommended allowance. They have become dependent on the online world because such activity allows them to escape from stress and unpleasant feelings, and this escapism can become addictive. The fast pace of online activity is not only altering the way young people’s brains process information, but such activity is also physically changing their brains. The overuse of online activity is reconfiguring children’s brains and forcing the field of education to adjust accordingly.
Many doctors urge parents to keep their toddlers away from handheld devices. Research has revealed that overexposure to online devices, such as iPads and smartphones, can lead to attention deficit disorders. The frantic pace of the Internet can result in the brain’s pruning neuronal tracts to the frontal lobe, an area that regulates emotion (Sowell, Thompson, Tessner, and Toga, p. 8820). Toddlers who frequently engage with technology tend to struggle with their self-regulation and have more tantrums, on average, than toddlers who do not interact with technology (Ward, p. 2). According to Dr. Richard Graham, who oversees a technology addiction program, toddlers “react with tantrums and uncontrollable behavior when their [devices] are taken away… they experience the same withdrawal symptoms as alcoholics or heroin addicts” (Ward, p. 3). Longitudinal studies have shown that the overuse of online activity for toddlers can result in depression and bipolar disorder as they mature (Ward, p. 4).
Many children do not view their obsession with the Internet as detrimental; rather, they believe that it has helped them become effective multitaskers. However, neuroscientists have proven that the “human brain does not perform two tasks at the same time. Instead, the brain handles tasks sequentially, switching between one task and another” (“Understanding the Distracted Brain,” p. 5). Handheld devices have resulted in students with shorter attention spans who chronically pay “continuous partial attention” to the world around them (Jenkins, p. 2). According to digital journalist Leonard Brody, “People’s ability to focus on long detailed content has shrunk. The Internet is a snacking medium; people only consume bits and pieces” (Jenkins, p. 3). This state of mind places the brain in constant crisis as it is continually on alert for new information that will bring on the next dose of dopamine (Horstman, p. 58). Neuroscientists have shown that online activity excites “the neurons in the ventral tegmental area of the midbrain, which releases the neurotransmitter dopamine into the brain’s pleasure centers,” resulting in Internet Use Disorder (IUD) for millions of young people (Davidow, p. 2). According to the American Psychiatric Association, children with “IUD have a preoccupation with the Internet, withdrawal symptoms when the substance (Internet) is no longer available, loss of other interests, and unsuccessful attempts to quit” (Walton, p. 2). Other researchers have discovered that the overuse of online devices places children in a “digital fog” in which they feel fatigued, irritable, and distracted (Small and Vorgan, p. 19). To combat this mental burnout, the brain secretes more cortisol and adrenaline. While these hormones increase energy levels in the short term, they lead to depression and alter neural circuitry for self-regulation over the long run (Small and Vorgan, p. 19). The facts are frightening: one in six children has a diagnosed mental illness, and aggressive and unmanageable behavior has become the norm at many schools across the country (Rowan, p. 5).
While many neuroscientists believe that the overuse of online activity is a dangerous phenomenon, there are some researchers who view this overuse in a positive light. To these researchers, even though young people are having less face-to-face interaction with each other, they are frequently interacting with people across the world in a virtual manner. As a result, they are rarely alone or isolated and feel more at ease: “Online, social presence and intimacy levels can be controlled… a lack of face-to-face communication online may decrease self-consciousness and social anxiety, which could facilitate pro-social behavior and enhance online friendship formation” (Morahan-Martin and Schumacher, p. 660). Additionally, these scientists have demonstrated that the frequent use of technology has helped developed neural circuitry in young people that allows for spurts of intense concentration: “Rather than simply catching ‘digital ADD,’ many [young people] are developing neural circuitry that is customized for rapid and incisive spurts of directed concentration” (Manfield, p. 2). These researchers have also demonstrated that video gaming leads to significant improvements in performance on various cognitive tasks, from visual perception to sustained attention, and that gaming can lead to “marked increases in the speed of information processing” (Horstman, p. 64). Even violent gaming has led to significant increases in a young person’s visual attention and memory (Horstman, p. 64).
In spite of the aforementioned results, the majority of neuroscientists believe that the overuse of online activity is harming children. Spending hours in the virtual world has led to the deterioration in a child’s ability to read people’s facial expressions and understand emotional context (Child and Vorgan, p. 6). As a result, social interactions have become more awkward, and there is greater misinterpretation during face-to-face meetings. These misunderstandings can escalate in children, from problems comprehending classroom lessons to bullying among peers. Children’s addiction to online activity has resulted in less interaction with other kids outside of school, and according to developmental psychologist Dr. Peter Gray, children who do not interact much with other kids have a higher likelihood of becoming aggressive and selfish adults (Horstman, p. 66). The dramatic rise in school shootings may be directly connected to such isolation as these young shooters follow a gaming-like script as they ruthlessly murder their classmates.
Many educators struggle to understand their students’ thinking. Impatient and hyperactive students are not simply going through a phase; this lack of behavioral regulation has become hardwired in their brains. As a result, teachers have had to modify lessons to increase the pace of the learning. The days of independent reading have vanished in many schools as students crave for constant activity. Many teachers have incorporated the flipped classroom, allowing students the freedom to watch the lesson at their own pace at home and giving them greater control over their learning. This style of learning allows teachers to use class time to focus “on cooperative learning [and] project-based learning” to ensure that students learn how to effectively work with their peers (Slavin, p. 240). However, teachers are not surrendering to the Internet. Many teachers forbid handheld devices in their classrooms; they refuse to compete with them. Teachers are also working with parents to limit the amount of screen time students have outside of class. Combating the online addition will require effective communication and collaboration with parents to help students free themselves from their obsession. While knowing how to navigate the virtual world is important, students still need to be able to communicate with others in a face-to-face manner. Teachers are doing their best to combat reality: “Kids are spending so much time communicating through technology that they’re not developing basic communication skills” (Johnson, p. 2). Teachers know that communication is not just about words, and through group projects and collaboration, they are doing their best to help students understand the extraordinary power of face-to-face communication.”
Do limit the amount of time on devices.
Do be clear about when use is permitted. Predictable routines protect the peace. Once negotiations cease and rules cement, people adjust to reality with less protest.
Do encourage time in the natural world. “Play outside” or pull from within is an option.
Do have conversations face to face, over the counter, in transit, at a meal with friends and family. About what? Day residue, dreams, current events, songs, that thing you think about…
Do find engaging projects that require in-the-flesh, five-sense, non-tech hand/brain activity, solo or accompanied.
Don’t feel guilty if you have to battle with your child to get the above to happen
Don’t give in, because compassionate authority in your home serves all
Don’t backpeddle due to complaints of boredom. First there’s nothing, then there’s something. Deep engagement brings joy but one must get into it.
Don’t fall for the “It’s an emergency! I have to have my phone.”
Don’t worry if you cannot effect this right away. Remember Rome.