motivation smartification smartifyI came across this term  “Motivation Porn” recently. Though it sounds really salacious here, it really refers to people reading heaps and heaps of motivation posts  and stories to do something but just never got round to doing it. We know whatever we are attempting will be good for us in the end… then why do we not get down to it?

Heaping “Motivation Porn” on our Children

You may have heard of parents sending their children to last minute study or motivational bootcamps in a bid to spark something in their children to ‘wake up their idea’ and hopefully start studying to score As or something just in time for their exams. These courses do not some cheap as the prices range from 4K to 24K. During the courses, it will seem as our children seem to change almost instantly…it’s like as if…they are motivated!

With these, the parents usually sigh with relief as their child seems to be making progress with their motivation level.  He/She is studying! He/She says they are making effort! There is hope! My child is now self-disciplined!

Yet fast forward a few weeks later… the child seems to be back at Square 1. It’s as if they have never attended the course. What has happened to all that hype? The ‘zing’? Whatever has happened to all that cash parents have invested in these boot camps? Why is it not working??

While we have heard of success stories, we know that the number of children returning to their original state far outweighs the successful ones.


Simply because people cannot motivate other people.

RELATED: Motivation, Study Habits – not IQ – determine Growth in Math Achievement

Let’s Define Motivation

First of all, let us define this term.  Williams and Burden (1997, 120) define motivation as multidimensional in general as follows:

motivation smartify smartification


Reasons Why Motivation Camps do not Help 

Many times, most of these children who attend motivational camps were already struggling with the overwhelming amount of information in their subjects to understand and digest. During the time they attend the camps, they are kept away from the books to be hyped up and are told constantly that they can do it. After the hype dies down and they return to reality, they try to break down their subjects and digest whatever information is necessary. However, they often find themselves stuck once more as they are not able to do so efficiently. Thus, they are unable to understand the knowledge content required before as well as the upcoming topics. This leaves a feeling of helplessness as motivation decreases.


Lower Dopamine Levels

Although dopamine is often associated with pleasure, it also encourage us to act and motivate us to achieve or avoid something bad. In short, it motivates us to move hard before we claim our rewards. Studies have shown that ‘slackers’ have lower dopamine levels and was present in the anterior insula, an area of the brain that is involved in emotion and risk perception. Thus, ‘slackers’ will always take the easy way out whenever possible.  ‘Go-getters’, on the other hand,  have higher dopamine levels in the striatum and prefrontal cortex — two areas known to impact motivation and reward.


RELATED: Why Play is Extremely Important For Your Child


Willpower is a Finite Resource

We are like batteries. Our energy levels keep us going until we run out.  A child’s battery level is usually much lower than an adult. At any given day, they will have willpower to motivate themselves to do something. Yet as the day pass, the willpower gradually diminishes and they are unable to carry out what they need to do – even though they know it is the right thing to do.


Your Genes may be Affecting them

A study was conducted across sets of twins aged from nine years old to 16, and living in the UK, Canada, Japan, Germany, Russia, and the US. The twins were asked to rate their ability in a range of different school subjects, including how they think they’re performing now, and how they think they’ll perform in the future. They were asked to rate how much they enjoyed doing things like reading, writing, and spelling. Interestingly, they found that genes rather than environment contribute to family resemblance in academic motivation.


Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset

If your child has always believe that intelligence is already determined at birth, they will always believe that, deep down, they will not succeed no matter how hard they try. That’s because they have a fixed mindset instead of a growth mindset. They believe that intelligence doesn’t grow and while they are hyped up during the camp, they will slink into their mindset that they are not able to stay motivated and move on. 


Suboptimal Motivation

Does your child really know why they are studying? When your child attends motivational camps, they are generally aware it is to perk them up to be ready for the big national exams. They know that poor results will not lead them to good schools. This awareness drives fear into them instead and when children are expected to be motivated to study for such high stakes examination, sub-optimal motivation kicks in. In short, they are studying because they have to and not that they want to. Motivation generated by values and a sense of purpose – “optimal” motivation – is sustainable over a longer period and produces better results.


Do you agree with the above? Share your thoughts with me.


Sources (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7)