As I was reminding my middle daughter to wake up, get up, get dressed and have her breakfast this morning, I could not stop thinking that I was living a deja-vu. She is only seven years old and masters many tricks for not taking charge of her duties for as long as she does not have to. Among the steps that I have taken to reason with her, I have noticed that whether I yell, calmly remind her, draw her pictures, post sentences on her bedroom wall with her help, she still finds a way to 'forget'. Is it that she is forgetting? Is she seeking attention? Is it that she is lazy?... I will spare you my list of questions but choose to share with you a comment made by my second half regarding our daughter's present lifestyle choices: let's spare ourselves from some useless parental headaches by seeking to understand what her motivations are. If we can understand her motivation, we may have better chances to get to know her. One thing said is far from being one thing done if you know what I mean.
I have previously looked at motivation as the fuel that brings us to act and complete tasks, but where do daily routines fit within this framework? There are tasks that we need to do that we have the motivation for them or not. Well, if I don't get to brush my teeth in the morning, my breath may stink today, and if I continue on that trend, I may increase the chances of getting cavities and gum disease. Motivated by the instant circumstances to please others or feeling te crush of long-term consequences. Will I brush my teeth seeking to please others? Or I feel like brushing them concerned by my own well-being? Chances are that we may actually go ahead and brush our teeth without even thinking about the why. We may get the habit of doing it (or not doing it). I agree, whether we brush our teeth or not is not an overly important issue but the point is that:
1) we may undertake an activity out of habit
2) we may do something because of ourselves
3) we may do something out of concerns of others
Coming back to my seven years old, apparently she may be picking on habits that are just unacceptable to me. She NEEDS to wake up, get up, get dressed and have her breakfast. At this point, she may complete her routine to please me, less concerned about what is right for her. What if as a teenager, she can still not understand the 'motives' behind our obligation to complete certain tasks? I am sure that I am not the only parent who would want to avoid relying on shooting at someone's wrong doing (do you recall the laptop shooting dad?) and to prevent that, I am focusig my energy to work with my daughter in a way that she gains consciousness about why it is that she needs to be doing certain things. I am here referring to the three points raised earlier. While engaging dialogues, I attempt to see where she is with respect to them. Will we be able to point at what her motivation really is? I do not know for sure, but I will at least know that the task was completed today!