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Author Topic: Book discussion: Internal Drive Theory by Petunia Lee  (Read 14711 times)
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Evelyn2108
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« on: September 28, 2015, 03:33:32 AM »

Hello Everyone,

Looking forward to discussing this very unique and interesting book with you, Internal Drive Theory: Motivate Your Child to Want to Study, by Dr Petunia Lee.  Big thanks to Anna for the recommendation.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the book, Petunia is a consultant and researcher in the field of employee motivation.  Luckily for us she decided to have children and apply the same principles with her own children and in family therapy sessions.  Much of the content found in this book is available haphazardly on her blog http://www.petunialee.blogspot.com/ . The book can be purchased from her blog or on amazon.  

One of the reasons this book is so interesting is because I don't think it could ever be written by a North American.  Some of the areas she delves into are taboo and sure to raise some eyebrows.  Other topcis are pretty standard fare as far as parenting books go, the new twist is the "why it drives" that she outlines.

Below I'll list the eleven methods she gives for ingiting your child's internal drive.  On top of those there are three key themes I noticed sprinkled throughout the book.  1) She emphasizes that an emotional connection is THE critical factor in the relationship with your child.  2) She also frequently reminds that you don't want to be old and alientated from a child you pushed and pressured in their youth.  3) She says if your child is lazy it's YOUR fault (see, not a north american authored book smile )

The methods to ignite drive

1.   Structured Choices
"Do you want to do 2 questions from your saxon book or two questions from your mortensen blocks". Waterdreamer, I'm quoting you  smile  She says everyone, even the smallest toddlers need to feel in control and by giving a choice the child makes an unconcious commitment to focus on that work goal.  Good, pretty standard fare.  


2.   Emotional Connection
I'm totally aligned with this.  As mentioned earlier this is a key theme throughout the book and she recommends you fix this before all else.  In this chapter she emphasizes that your child will need you to provide emotional strength and remove toxic emotions to help them achieve their challenging goals.  Basically, lots of support, our kids need us!


3.   Focus on Study Process, Not Grades
The Montessori parents will like this one because it's about empowering kids to get to a point where they can very effectively manage their own study.Throughout the book she references how she took her children from 'average' performers to top of the class (a BIG deal in Singapore).  What she reveals later on is that this was all intentional, a way to teach her children that it was the process and hard work they put in that allowed them to achieve what seemed to be insurmountable goals.  She says that you collaboratively should create a series of specific study behavoiurs that are clearly defined.  Sort of like a SMART goal if you have heard the term.  It's effective, but definitely requires a lot of engagement from the parent until the child learns the skill.  The upshoot of focusing on process is that if a poor grade is achieved your child won't say "I'm not good enough", ideally they'll say "How can I change the process to achieve the goal I want?"


4.   Information Feedback
It was either Outliers or Talent is Overated (or both) that discussed how practising in the sweet spot, challenging but not TOO challenging is how the greats become great.  Her argument here is that your feedback needs to be very specific so that your child knows how to focus their process (above)


5.   RIVR & RIVP
It's safe to say that this one is controversial.  Kudos to her for having the guts to lay it out there.  RIVR = random intermittent variable reinforcement.  The pleasure cycle that gets a gambler to the slots can be used to get your child addicted to studying. She also cites Pavlov's dogs.  Give your child a really intense positive experience, then follow it with intermittent reinforcement.  She gives the example of buying her son a set of books and taking him out for an attention lavished walk and meal when he displayed self drive in reading a book.  She says not to bribe though or the child will not learn to enjoy the studying in and of itself. Fine line to walk.  

RIVP is where things get dicey, random intermittent variable punishment.  She talks about turning into mother medusa.  Screaming at her son for hours.  She says the key to this technique is to be sweet and encouraging until the very second you turn into mother medusa.  That way your child won't see it coming, if they don't see it coming they can't predict it's occurence in the future, that way they will do anything to avoid it happening again.  It's serious stuff.  She advises doing it no more then once every 2 or 3 years, and only for deeply ingrained behaviours that are resistant to other methods.  Not sure if I could do this, or would want to do this.  BUT she makes the point that it is much more effective in changing behaviour then the every so often blow ups that some parents have.  My son didn't like brushing his teeth, I was getting very annoyed with the whole thing.  He threw his toothbrush on the ground and I screamed an angry "Dallas NO".   He completely burst out crying, I felt so bad. Daddy had to brush his teeth from then on out, and he did a much better job (son now likes brushing his teeth).  Anyways, I'm just saying, we all lose our tempers sometime, so if you feel yourself going there maybe this IS something to consider.  


6.   Strengthen Self-Efficacy:  Difficult Victories.  
Self-Efficacy is that never say die attitude that some people have when working towards goals.  She says it can be developed 3 ways 1)when other people believe you can 2)when you observe a role model who could 3)when you have experience your own Difficult Victories, with this last one being the most effective.  She says you can start with DF in babyhood, things like zipping your jacket (hello Montessori moms!).  Challenge is that many parents are impatient (I'm raising my hand on this one).  Parents need to allow their children to risk failure and even experience failure.  The key is to let them fail or almost fail when it doesn't have any serious consequences.  When they achieve it will be so rewarding and you can reinforce that joy to make it really stick.  She recommends mastering the previous methods before working on this one.  I do get a little tired just thinking about this one.  Ha.  


7.   Failure Management
Learning Goal Orientation.  Seeing the silver lining in failures, yay mom I made a mistake, now I know how to avoid that mistake for next time! Sounds dreamy right? She says you can achieve this by reviewing the failure with the child to determine if they were diligent with their process (method 3), if they were not diligent, that's the issue.  If they were, figure out where went wrong and what to change.  Sounds pretty simple right?  Too good to be true?  


8.   Design the Self-Concept
I love this one, it's just so, so true.  We behave in accordance with who we think we are.  Language shapes our reality.  Every time you jockingly say "naughty boy" your child is absorbing that message.  The same thing happens with any label you place on your child, so be cautious with bad labels and leverage good labels!  There is a little bit of a conflict here with Nutureshock where they point out that calling your child smart will lower their resilience when they face challenges.  I think within the broader context of Petunia's techniques you can avoid this scenario because you're building up your child's drive in so many other ways.  


9.   Set Goals
Ok, actually this one is more like SMART.  smile  The Petunia's twist is that she points out goals are addictive, it feels good to achieve them, use them to get your kids addicted to school.  She talks about a few different types of goals, the one I found most interesting was the "Too Easy Forced Goals".  If your child is really bummed out you can lift them up by giving them an easy goal.  Achieving those goals helps build them up again.  After a time your child will have enough of a reserve built up to face something more challenging. She also talks about setting "Impossible Goals" and gives an example where her son spent weeks of his vacation memorizing chinese compositions.  I felt really sad for her son on this one. I'm not sure that I would want to go there, although I can appreciate  that they live in a different culture where succeeding at school has such a huge impact on your life.  


10.   Specify and Magnify  
I love, love this one as well.  Focus on what the child has done right and amplify it.  This is so in line with the parenting techniques I'm implementing from "Positive Discipline".  There is an interesting parellel here to Mortensen math (which is top of mind for me these days).  Workbooks can sap your energy because they cause you to learn from your mistakes, I got this wrong, now I review and figure out how to get it right.  With Mortensen and playing with blocks you will have lots of opportunities to cheer on what your child is doing right.  Make a big fuss when they add correctly or when they point out a math concept.  So many chances to focus on the positive!  She said one of the biggest challenges with this technique is that it can be too effective, and your child might start to overdo things.  


11.   Physical Movement  
Practice can be tedious, movement helps your child's brain from falling asleep.  I think all us EL'ers can certainly relate to this. I'm sure most of our busy little toddlers learned their skip counting dancing around, jumping and moving.  She gives an example of having her son run to her after every problem he solved so she could check his work.  smile  


Ok, my review could go on and on, so I'm going to end it here.

What did you love about the book?  What did you find questionable?  What have you implemented successfully?  (either due to reading it, or parenting practices you followed naturally.  

Can't wait to hear everyone's thoughts!

Evelyn


« Last Edit: September 28, 2015, 03:43:52 AM by Evelyn2108 » Logged
mybabyian
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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2015, 04:52:42 AM »

Thank you so much for bringing up this topic. I haven't finished the book but I do have a few ideas about it. I will share a few.

I think the book is wonderful and I am so glad that I have had the chance to read it. The only part i found questionable was turning into mother medusa (RIVP). She even says youneed to be very careful about his one because you want to make sure the child associates the  punishment with his actions and not with you.  I just feel like it is too much if a risk to your relationship. And as you mentioned connection is key.  So I will not be applying this part. I don't want my kids to be nervous that mommight explode at any moment.

I do have a story about setting impossible goals and self efficacy.  One night my husband was doing a puzzle with my son. Or more accurately my husband was doing the puzzle by himself and my son was in the same vicinity.  I wanted my husband to come help me but he kept saying We are doing a puzzle together.  I told him, "No you are doing the puzzle nit him. Come on it's too hard for him."  Oops.  I regretted saying that because I want him ti want to try hard things and believe his capable of doing hard things, not to feel that things are too hard so why bother.

So that night I moved the puzzle to a table that is my son's height and just left it out for him so he could be tempted to do it the next day without his Dad there to take over.  I can't remember how or if I encouraged him to try it but he did. It was a really hard puzzle and I helped him a bit bu giving him strategies but I did not put any pieces together for him. It too him a few days but he did it he was so enormously proud if himself. I made sure to make a big deal how he had completed this impossible puzzle by himself.

Later when he told me something he had to do was too hard I said "Really????? Are you not the boy who can pit tigether impossible puzzles?" He thought ti himself and decided that yes he can do hard things and did it.

I have more to add and maybe I will soon. Sorry for the typos! For some reason my phone is not letting me correct or revise anything I am writing! Thanks for the post!

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« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2015, 05:38:55 AM »

Oh i did love this book. I am glad I have it to refer back to over time. It's a keeper.
My big takeaways hmmm there were a few.
I did find I do a lot of these things naturally, which I guess would explain my kids fabulous attitudes towards learning. I got a few great new ideas which I implemented strait away.

Goals: we have always had some goals for the kids, but the academic ones are so difficult to pin down since they attend school. I often can't get enough information about what they are learning to set goals. Still we set some goals to get 100% in spelling, phonograms and Aplus for some assignments. All of which they managed. My children's marks are usually near 100% but setting goals for it meant they had to avoid those careless errors they often had.

RIVR random intermittent variable reinforcement was just the thing I was looking for and never new it. A few times in the past I have found my kids doing things just because they know I like it, or worse expecting rewards because I gave them once before. This idea of rewarding them randomly has made a big difference to their own sense of wellbeing. Now they really don't know when mum is going to super pleased and dance around the house screaming "you did it! You little legend!" And they truely get excited by their successes. Oh and it doesn't cost me Lego every time I want something done well! And it gives me a reason to spoil them routine sometimes ☺️ I like excuses to spoil my kids. 😃 I am using this in my classroom with fantastic success also.

Now RIVP at first shocked me to my core. BUT see I think there might be a bit of tiger mum in me because on reflection I can see a place for it. I think the key point here is that your relationship with your kids must be ROCK SOLID before you even consider this one. You also need the right kids. One of my three would just never forgive me for this behaviour so the risk is too great, I wouldn't use it for academics frankly. I just don't think high academic marks are worth that. (I know! I a, shocked I said that too!) but I would pull this card out if I caught my kids doing drugs or something that bad and life altering. When the risk would be worth the reward. I know I could pull of a 3 day Madusa rant easily too. I can act quite convincingly 😉

Many of the other pouts I do already but I have enhanced my positive talk about the kids within their earshot and I have made my feedback loop more explicit, both in schoolwork and in their sports and behaviour. I also send them out to put the chooks to bed halfway through homework now too. They never complain about putting the chooks to bed now for some reason.... 😆😆😆



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« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2015, 12:57:13 PM »

Thanks for the book recommendation; it sounds like a must read! I look forward to discussing it further once I've read it.  Thanks for the detailed review as well.

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Evelyn2108
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« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2015, 03:16:39 AM »

mybabyian:
That is so awesome about your son reaching impossible goals!  Really, super cool.  This is my biggest failing.  I'm way too quick to jump in and "help" my boy.  I'm afraid if I leave him he will get frustrated and give up.  Grr, I know it's not helping, but I just can't stop myself! Ha.  So, good for you for what you did and what an awesome experience it was for your son.

Mandabplus & mybabyian:
Yes, the mother medusa is scary.  And she did it over what... not exercising.  Hmm.  Agreed that I either wouldn't use it at all, or it would have to be something really serious.  Although, I don't think it would work at all for drugs.  It's the whole randomness that makes it work, that's why it needs to be for stubborn habits that haven't responded to her other methods.  For drugs you'll probably only catch your kid at it once, and pull out a mother medusa.  In that case, the kid just learns to not get caught. It's really different from something you've been nagging them at for a while.  

On the topic of RIVR, I suspect this is why my son all of a sudden no longer wanted to be submerged in the pool.    big grin   He probably randomly got water up his nose once or twice and then decided the risk of being underwater wasn't worth it and went on a full blown strike. RIVR could explain a lot of toddler idiosyncracies.  

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« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2015, 04:56:06 PM »

I'm about a third of the way through the book (it's been a long summer), but will pick this back up.

I must say, from what I've read so far, it's very well done conceptually.

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« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2017, 11:30:53 AM »

I think most surveys on this superb book sort of read what I accept to be the valid and critical purpose of it: The complexity between clear conduct in their contracted measure world and the sensibleness of everything from a full-scale point of view.

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