The Day “HOPE” Catalysed Intrinsic Motivation

Grass Is Cutting Its Way Out of Iron and Concrete (Image taken at the open parking of Simei Green Condo)

One of the recent observations in our parenting journey is that, Ivan is showing keenness in putting up together science-based models that have a functionality and purpose. Arguably, it can be viewed as a mark of his skills that he has picked up while graduating from Kindergarten to Grade 1. And that he trying to understand and make sense of STEM & STEAM through hands-on activities.

On this Sunday morning, in one such endeavour, he was trying to build a model of a Crazy Robot.

After reading the instructions on the provided manual, he realised that we had run out of AAA batteries in home and that he cannot power the robot without it. This revelation let him down and he left the pieces of model in one corner and did not speak about the matter at all.

However, after a while, we found him, working again on his model.

[Meanwhile, seeing him back on his engagement, I searched for a pair of partially discharged AAA rechargeable batteries that I found in my drawer, and put them to charging, without him knowing about it].

And as he was gradually progressing one step after the other, he asked an unprecedented question, “I know that I do not have the required batteries to make this model work, still I do not know why am I assembling the pieces together?”

It was a moment of pause for us. I was witnessing an inter-play of well-being related concepts in action viz. Intrinsic Motivation and Hope & Agency Thinking.

As a positive parenting practitioner, this was an opportune moment for me to lay the foundation of resilience in him, where hope will be working like a catalyst and feeder in a virtuous cycle arrangement.

[Trivia: Last I heard about the function of ‘catalyst’ was in my school, during Chemistry classes, little did I know then that we can develop perspectives and draw ideas from there into parenting]

Followed by a brief silence, I explained to him, “Ivan, it is the hope in your heart that is helping you to keep making this model – a belief that when you will be done building it, you will eventually get to power it somehow. And since you are really curious to see how it looks like, you will keep on going to assemble the parts of the robot, even in the absence of batteries. You are driven by your desire to learn, therefore not having batteries is not affecting your willingness to learn.”

After carefully understanding this reasoning from me, he was feeling super-charged on his mission and sped up to complete the assembly.

[Meanwhile I was praying that by the time he completes his model, the batteries come to a sufficiently well potential difference to be able to make the robot move, but it didn’t go that way…]

So, once he finished building his model, we headed to our mid-morning snack time where we chattered just about anything and that helped me take his mind off from the activity.

[As a matter of fact, I was buying time for the charger to do to its job]

And after an hour or so, I dramatically announced, “Dear Ivan, now that you have relentlessly worked towards your robot project and finished building it, looks like your efforts have paid off and you may proceed to the study room where a pair of AAA batteries are waiting for you!”

Crazy Robot: Final Model Ready

For the next few minutes, he had mixed emotions, however, zest was on top to display. And as he placed the batteries in their slots, the crazy robot, to our absolute amazement, lived truly to its name – walking, jumping, flipping and spinning. The next one hour just flew in flow.

After Thoughts – Last year, I saw a video by Tiffany Shlain & Let It Ripple Film Studio, titled The Adaptable Mind, where Tiffany mentions about SHTEAM. The ‘H’ represents Humanity Skills for children. I believe that this Sunday episode on a robot building exercise has just embedded the H, in practice, with the positive parenting skills.

I am hoping we can help our kids in their well-rounded development with the science and research on Positive Psychology, available at our hand. We really have so many opportunities to leverage with our active constructive communication style.

Stay safe. Happy Parenting.



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