Internal Motivation Drives Behavior

Internal Motivation Drives Behavior

For decades I’ve said that internal motivation drives behavior. I’ve seen this truth daily throughout my career. It’s the reason why I wrote the book Discipline Without Stress—to help teachers teach students the difference between internal motivation and external motivation and how each impacts their behavior.

In the Discipline Without Stress discussion group, a teacher made a comment about wanting to use Discipline Without Stress to “give young people a meaningful voice in their education.” One of my dear colleagues and friends, Kerry Weisner, responded with her viewpoint. Here is her reply:

“Giving kids ‘a meaningful voice in their education’ is not my goal when I use ideas from DWS in my teaching or parenting. Perhaps I misunderstand what you are seeking, but to me it sounds as if you want kids to have more choices and more say in their education in general. I’m thinking that you have a different goal than I have in mind. Maybe you seek to have more autonomy for kids with what they study and how they learn and how the school is run.

“I use DWS to help kids understand more about their personal behavior. I use it to teach them the difference between external and internal motivation so that they can make informed and conscious decisions about their own behavior.

“I want them to understand that they always have the choice in any situation; they can choose to be externally driven or internally driven. Level D can accurately be described as ‘freely chosen autonomous behavior.’

“A person who is conscious about their personal behavior then has the opportunity to choose autonomous behaviors consciously. I use DWS as a tool to help make this understandable to students at all the various grade levels.

“I endeavor to make Level D attractive to them so that they will hopefully choose autonomous behavior with more frequency. Once experienced, autonomous behavior then drives itself because it creates such powerful inner feelings of mastery, purpose, and competence.”

Kerry’s points are quite valid, as Discipline Without Stress is designed to help youth understand and master responsible behavior.

Share your thoughts about how you use Discipline Without Stress in your classroom on the Without Stress Facebook page.