How can I motivate a child extrinsically?
What are the best ways to motivate a child in learning?
John Holt used to say that you "cannot motivate a child from the outside". All good learning comes from within. He adds "you can either threaten a child or bribe a child". He is largely correct as explained in Pleasure of learning.
This does not mean that parents, teachers or educators are impotent. To some degree they can influence motivation using the following tools:
- modifying child's environment (e.g. by choice of books available)
- conversation that affects knowledge, its valuations, and the learn drive
- judicious employment of the push zone (e.g. to encourage a switch from a less educational to a more educational videogame)
Other than that, a child can be "manipulated" with his reward system. However, all rewards or penalties that are not knowledge-based may backfire with mistargeted conditioning. This may result in the ultimate suppression of the learn drive. In particular, grades at school are a motivator with a whole array of negative side effects.
The best non-specific source of learning motivation is massive learning itself.