Self-motivation is a skill

Did you know self-motivation is a skill youth can develop through 4-H? It’s true! Discover skills and processing questions related to self-motivation.

Children and youth develop at different rates. 4-H programs and skill development opportunities work to match a child’s age with their emotional and physical abilities.

Children and youth develop at different rates. 4-H programs and skill development opportunities work to match a child’s age with their emotional and physical abilities.

Michigan State University Extension 4-H volunteers help youth reach their full potential by teaching life skills. Many of the life skills that members gain through their 4-H participation are identified in the Iowa State University Targeting Life Skills Model. This resource is for 4-H volunteers to use with 4-H members to help connect life skills learned through their 4-H projects to real-life experiences. Through the provided age-appropriate discussion questions, volunteers can help youth connect their hands-on 4-H experiences with life skills learned and how to apply them to real life situations.

Did you know self-motivation is a skill youth can develop by being a part of a 4-H youth development program? It’s true! As youth develop the skill of self-motivation, they may find themselves able to make the needed effort to carry out a task or plan by finding a personal will to take action. Self-motivation includes:

  • Inspiring oneself to make the necessary effort
  • Taking initiative or acting on the necessary steps to begin or follow through with a plan or task
  • Self-starting, which often means working independently or with little supervision
  • Perseverance

4-H youth development programs specialize in creating opportunities for youth that are age-appropriate. This means that children and youth develop at different rates and programs and skill development opportunities will match a child’s age with their emotional and physical abilities. As adapted by the Iowa State University Targeting Life Skills Training Manual, when developing the skill of self-motivation, the following are guidelines for age appropriate skills:

Ages 5-8

  • Learns about time and being on time
  • Is willing to make multiple attempts to master a task

Ages 9-11

  • Takes responsibility for meeting deadlines
  • Spends time on tasks wisely with adult encouragement
  • Begins to break tasks into steps or parts for easier completion with adult support
  • Is eager to try new things

Ages 12-14

  • Starts to become self-directed
  • Works and completes projects independently
  • Allocates time appropriately among tasks and usually meets deadlines

Ages 15-19

  • Organizes several tasks into sequential segments and allocates needed time to each
  • Establishes own deadlines and meets them
  • Is able to prioritize tasks
  • Uses time responsibly

4-H volunteers also utilize the Missouri 4-H Experiential Learning Model and Processing Questions to help the youth they work with process and think about the skills they are learning in their 4-H projects. Suggested age-appropriate processing questions relate to the skill of self-motivation include:

5- to 8-year-olds

  • What help did you get?
  • What are some ways you like to learn?

9- to 11-year-olds

  • What would you do differently if you conducted this activity?
  • What did you learn?

12- to 14-year-olds

  • What did you learn about making decisions?
  • What did you learn by observations?

15- to 19-year-olds

  • Why is learning with others sometimes more fun than learning alone?
  • Why is it important to have plenty of information before making decisions?

Read other articles about important life skills learned in 4-H, including: Wise use of resources is a skill and Nurturing relationships is a skill.

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