“It was a great activity for him,” she said. “He wrote the notes, he narrated the video, and he demonstrated the movements, and I did them alongside him.” Some moves, such as squats and lunges, were things Malachi had seen his mother do at the gym, and others were things he felt kids would want to do.
“We found a way to foster creativity and movement together,” Delgado-Lugo said. “It was so much fun.”
It’s crucial to maintain that engagement with kids, said McDonald, the athletic director at the McLean School. “If the kids have buy-in, it makes the pandemic feel a bit easier to manage. When they feel like their voice is being heard, it makes exercise a more enjoyable experience.” After all, if it’s not fun, children may try to opt out, especially in the privacy of their own homes, without the encouragement and company of their peers, and with the “stop video” button beckoning on their laptop or tablet.
In some cases, the development of intrinsic motivation may require some parental help. For example, if a parent wants to take a child hiking, the parent might tell the child she can choose a place to eat lunch afterward, Nicksic said.
“The hope is that the kid enjoys themselves, and the next time you ask, they can remember they had a good time last time, and they’ll want to go again. The reason extrinsic motivation is necessary is that if the intrinsic motivation was there, you wouldn’t need to change the behavior, because the individual would have already done it.”