Creative Child

What’s Behind Your Child’s Motivation? It May Be Genetics

by Deborah Song

Why are some kids motivated and others not? Until I had kids of my own, I chalked it up to parenting and the aptitude of their teachers. I don’t believe this anymore.

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I have two daughters, 7 and 5, who have been brought up the same. They have received, if not identical, very similar opportunities, exposures and values that have been instilled from a very young age - values like don’t give up and always try your best.

Yet it’s as clear as broad daylight that the older one is naturally more motivated. She’s not only more willing to try new things but is also more likely to stay the course, even though life seems to come easier for my younger daughter. She is seemingly more coordinated, makes friends more easily and is naturally more confident. And yet she’s less willing to engage in activities she even enjoys doing!

Once I take her to ballet and swim, she obliges and has fun. But getting her there is never easy. Never mind the tug of war that ensues when I tell her to clean her room. I realize she is only 5 years old. But the point is, two kids who have grown up in the same home have very different motivational levels. Witnessing their personalities persist form birth, I am convinced that motivation, along with other seemingly nurtured traits like confidence, is largely determined by genes. There are studies to show this.

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