A person can’t be friendly or nice when they’re hungry.
A child cannot regulate their emotions if they’re hungry or sleepy.
A person can’t have a high level of self-esteem if he isn’t in a safe environment.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow’s theories were focused on maximizing well-being and achieving one’s full potential, as opposed to the other popular ideas- Freud’s psychoanalytic and Skinner’s behavioral theories.
Maslow believed that they were such great exceptional people that he began to analyze and take notes on their behavior. This analysis served as the basis for his theories and research on human potential.
Maslow believed that truly healthy people were self-actualizers because they satisfied the highest psychological needs, fully blending or combining the parts of their personality.
So how do people get motivated? The basic instincts are for survival. Your desire and need for life pushes you to search for food, sleep etc. Once those needs are met, you move on to the next level and so on.
It’s like a ladder, one step creates the step for the next level. Some levels are interchangeable or combined, and probably change with different seasons in life.
This is super helpful to apply to kids especially when homeschooling.
If my child is hungry (bottom red part of the pyramid) she will have a hard time acting friendly and connecting with others (the higher orange and green parts of the pyramid). It will be almost impossible to motivate the child to learn a concept if she’s sleep deprived. And so on.
Such a basic concept that applies to all of us!
Sometimes in the faith community we expect people to be at the top section, where we want them to be living life at the fullest potential. We want them to be spiritually enlightened but we have no clue how their level of safety is at home. Or that they’re trying to figure out their job situation because that’s a priority. Other needs have to be satisfied before moving on to bigger and better things.
Maslow ended up adjusting and adding to his pyramid; there are deficiency needs and growth needs. Some exceptions obviously exist, where a starving artist could be homeless and hungry but doesn’t seem to care as long as he gets to create art (case in point: Vincent Van Gogh).
“It is quite true that man lives by bread alone — when there is no bread. But what happens to man’s desires when there is plenty of bread and when his belly is chronically filled? At once other (and “higher”) needs emerge and these, rather than physiological hungers, dominate the organism. And when these in turn are satisfied, again new (and still “higher”) needs emerge and so on. This is what we mean by saying that the basic human needs are organized into a hierarchy of relative prepotency” (Maslow, 1943, p. 375).