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Do you know those days when you’ve got a packed schedule and you need to be productive to complete everything on your to-do list? The problems begin when you feel like you don’t have an ounce of energy and all you want to do is curl up in bed with a cup of tea and a book.

Both adults and children have moments when their energy level is low and motivation seems to be completely lacking. One of the methods that has proven effective in raising someone’s level of motivation is creative dance. Discover below the mechanism behind motivation and how you can overcome mental barriers with dance therapy.

Intrinsic motivation vs. extrinsic motivation

Motivation refers to all internal processes that activate, guide and support our behaviours. That said, motivation occurs when one person chooses to perform a certain action to the detriment of another and manages to complete the action regardless of external or internal factors considered disruptive.

There are two types of motivation: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation refers to the pleasure caused by performing an action. Both children and adults do certain things just because they feel good and are not constrained by external factors.

Extrinsic motivation is the opposite of intrinsic motivation because it is based on achieving a goal. Specifically, any action taken by a person in order to bring satisfaction of any kind (emotional, financial, social status, etc.). In this case, it is external factors that trigger the initiation of an action, and not the person’s inner feelings.

How do we know if a child is suffering from lack of motivation?

Here we refer both to our inner child and to the little ones around us. It may be hard to believe that there are still traces of childhood inside you, but we believe that there is an inner child hidden in each of us, ready to come to light. By helping your inner child, you will be able to identify certain similarities with the little one around you and you will be able to help or understand him better.

Among the best known behaviours that indicate a lack of motivation are:

  •  postponing the start of an activity,
  •  having difficulties making a decision,
  •  believing that the success rate of an activity is low,
  •  refusing to start a completely new business, or
  •  giving up any activity if the first attempt was unsuccessful.

These behaviours can be manifested by both adults and children.

Dance therapy helps to release the tensions inscribed in the body’s memory

Dance therapy is considered a form of communication, both with the inner self and with others. With the support of dance-therapy and creative dance sessions, adults together with children learn to decipher the feelings that arise inside them and how to express them with the help of non-verbal, paraverbal and verbal language through the body-mind-emotions-soul-spirit relationship, the gateway to this inner universe being realized mainly through the body. With the release of certain feelings that drain our energy and darken our judgment, people feel “relieved” by certain difficulties. The main object of creative dance sessions is to find balance, the harmony between body-mind-soul-spirit, and this makes it easier to find the best moment to discover your motivation.

How to achieve optimal arousal and performance in the world of dance

In the literature, the optimal arousal theory of motivation (also known as the Yerkes-Dodson law) is closely related to performance. The increase in performance is proportional to the increase of motivation only up to a point, beyond which stagnation and even regression begin.

At two opposite poles are overmotivation and submotivation. Overmotivation causes maximum energy mobilization and emotional tension that can result in mental blockage, stress, disorganized behaviour, and ultimately failure. Submotivation leads to insufficient energy mobilization, to superficially treating tasks, and in the end the result is not achieving the proposed goal. Depending on the intensity of the motivation and the difficulty of the action you want to take, you will find yourself closer to one of the two categories.

In order to grow and develop this dimension, it is necessary to take into account both the cognitive-behavioural factors that influence beliefs about one’s own effectiveness and its sources: their performance, that of others, the models they follow, persuasions (encouragements) and affective dimensions (what emotions and feelings they have).

Discover how to teach children to achieve optimal arousal and performance:

Awareness and objective evaluation of one’s own effort, knowledge or skills

At the beginning of the journey, dancers have difficulty assessing their own effort and realizing how much knowledge they have about dance. In order to support the children, the facilitators mainly monitor the technical evolution of the dancers and visualize together with the students the dances recorded from one hour to another (with the consent of the parents).

It is also recommended to start a diary in which to write at the end of the class what they have learned, how much effort they think they have put in, and how long it took them to learn a certain movement. It is recommended to hold the discussions about the evolution of the dancers in a group, so that the other participants can also contribute what they’ve observed about their peers. Sometimes we do not see in ourselves what others notice much more easily.

It is important for little dancers to learn what responsibility means

It is important for children to know from the beginning of each session the proposed objectives and what they will do in that session, depending on their level and development. Dialogue is essential in communicating with children, and it is important for them to feel safe so that they can say if something is difficult for them to achieve. This discussion removes anxiety and stress, as well as the childrens’ hidden and unspoken expectations. One solution for effective communication would be to draw a map with the children about their progress and how to achieve the desired results.

Return to the problems, difficulties encountered by children to correct them and find alternative solutions

How can I do it differently? How can I do better tomorrow? These are some of the questions that children should answer at the end of each session. Writing the answers in the diary will help them remember what they discussed every day/hour.

Children need role models — experienced dancers to inspire and motivate them

Experienced dancers that are admired by children can take part in dance sessions to talk to children about what success means, how they have achieved good results in their field of activity and how they can overcome their limits.

Children need constant encouragement

It is recommended that at the beginning of and throughout the dance session, children repeat words of encouragement and affirmation even while training and warming up. Learning during moving is beneficial and easy, and is a powerful experience in the body. It is also important that the encouragement comes from the choreographer every hour, accompanied by arguments, or highlighting personal evolution.

Keep close contact with both the dancers’ families and them to discuss any strong emotional or mental states that arise and may influence their performance.

Each dancer can go through tense states that affect interoception and, implicitly, motivation, energy to make more effort. If this happens to children, they will find through dance the opportunity to express their emotions, fatigue and everything that bothers them, especially if they do not want to open up verbally. As an intermediate and complementary artistic element, it would be indicated that after dancing, to make a drawing with what they experienced and to choose a song that best describes their condition. This can provide information about their inner world that adults may not otherwise have access to.

Dance therapy also provides a realistic view of future actions, so specialists guide students to identify their inner resources, find the courage to take action and, last but not least, to plan realistic or SMART goals.


Managing emotions through dance-therapy and creative dance

Managing emotions through dance-therapy and creative dance

Dance has the ability to convey emotions beyond linguistic, cultural or racial barriers and contributes to the spread of the feeling of acceptance. Through dance, people can express emotions or inner states that are difficult to express in words. Have you ever…

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