Discipline and Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation and having someone else discipline you is an oxymoron, as in “cruel kindness.” One invalidates the other.

By definition, “INTRINSIC MOTIVATION” infers something you WANT or LIKE to do. Would you WANT to have someone else punish you? 

I promote using “INTERNAL”—rather than “INTRINSIC”—motivation (although technically all motivation is internal) because taking responsibility and being considerate of others is not something that is “natural.” These characteristics need to be taught. Saying, “Thank you” and “Please” are not inborn communications civilities. If you are a parent you know this by the number of times it is necessary to remind young people of this social nicety.

Motivation prompts our behavior. We are motivated to get out of bed in the morning; otherwise, we would still be there. If we work toward a reward, that becomes an incentive, which acts as our motivation. Even though the incentive is outside of ourselves, our motivation comes from within.

We avoid punishments—an outside incentive to be avoided—but the motivation still comes from within ourselves. 

In this regard, external rewards and imposed punishments are different sides of the same coin. Rewards as bribes ask, “What will I get if I do it?” and punishments ask, “What will you do to me if I don’t?”

Discipline without Stress® relies on doing what is right without the use of these external approaches because the internal satisfaction for appropriate behavior is the most satisfying. Although the system relies on noncoercion and collaboration, it is not permissive. By teaching the difference between “internal” and “external” motivation, people become intrinsically motivated to behave responsibly and appropriately.