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The Science of Motivation and Its Implications

The Science of Motivation and Its Implications

What’s the best way to motivate children? The natural motivation to learn about the world around us begins in infancy. This type of motivation can either be encouraged or suppressed by the experiences adults provide for children. Psychological research points to a set of promising approaches that parents and practitioners can use to promote positive motivation and learning during development.

The Center on the Developing Child offers several resources on the science of motivation, including:

Five Facts About Motivation That Are Often Misunderstood
The brain systems that govern motivation are built over time, starting in the earliest years of development. Providing children with many kinds of early life experiences supports the development of healthy, balanced motivation systems. Learn five quick facts about motivation that are frequently misunderstood.

How to Motivate Children: Science-Based Approaches for Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers
Nine specific strategies for building motivation in babies and children are discussed.

Understanding Motivation: Building the Brain Architecture That Supports Learning, Health, and Community Participation
This working paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child explains the science behind motivation–the “wanting” system and the “liking” system–as well as how those systems develop, and how that development can be disrupted. It also dives into the implications of the science for parents, caregivers, and teachers, as well as policy and public systems.

The Brain Circuits Underlying Motivation: An Interactive Graphic
Want to learn more about the brain regions involved in motivation and how they work together? View this interactive graphic where you can hover over the labels on the brain regions to learn more about how each region affects motivation. Hovering over the graphic’s highlighted text to the left of the brain image to see how those regions interact.

Motivation and Early Childhood Policy: Science-Based Approaches for Policymakers and Public Systems
Programs intended to support parents and children facing adversity often find that participation is one of their greatest challenges. Dropping out of school and not participating in family support, job training, or addiction programs—all of these are reflections of motivation systems that have been disrupted by threat or hardship. Substantial scientific knowledge can inform the search for solutions by helping us understand what leads to these behaviors.


SOURCE ARTICLE: Center on the Developing Child – Harvard University