How to motivate your teenager

how to motivate your teenager

How to Motivate Your Teenager

A common complaint I heard from parents and teachers growing up are how lazy and unmotivated the American teenager is in the 21st century.  Parents think that today’s teen’s care more about what Instagram filter to use on their photo than finishing their Trigonometry packet, writing their English essay, or studying for tests.

As someone who isn’t all that far removed from their teenaged years I can tell you that for the most part teenagers aren’t lazy nor are they unmotivated.

However, if you as a parent feel at your wits end look no further than this article for tips on how to motivate your teenager.

Tell Them “Why” They Need to do Something

As a parent you probably hear the phrase “but why do I have to do this?” at a minimum of ten times a day am I right?

Well for as often as parents get annoyed by that phrase teens often get annoyed by the broken record response back to them of “you just do,” or the personal favorite “because I told you so.”  The number one thing not to do when you are trying to motivate your teenager to complete their work is give them the age old flippant answer of “because I told you to.” 

The number one best tip I can give you on how to motivate your teenager is to lose that response and focus on connecting the teen’s current task at hand with some larger goal they have. 

Make “To Don’t” Lists

No really you read that right. I just told you to make a “to don’t” list!

Oftentimes teenager’s aren’t lazy or unmotivated but rather are often too busy and that feeling can leave them paralyzed.

Because teenagers often juggle so many responsibilities they simply don’t know where to begin in terms of fulfilling their obligations.

This is where “to don’t” lists come into play! Before each new school year sit down with your teenager and talk to them.  Ask them what their goals are, if they have any inkling on what they would like to do post high school and then with those ideas in mind see if where they are prioritizing their time matches up with their goals. If some parts of their schedules don’t match up consider dropping those activities.

Let Them Fail

This may be the hardest tip of all to follow because no parent likes to see their teen struggle.  Part of the reason parents are so unwilling to let their teen fail is because they connect their teen’s successes and failures with their worth as a parent.

When I tell you to let your child fail what I mean is don’t be that helicopter parent who reminds them to do their homework or study.  When you as a parent are giving constant reminders to teens on what they need to do they aren’t learning to take responsibility for their work or creating a drive within themselves to complete tasks.

So, rather than badger your teenager simply take a back seat and if this leads to them failing a test so be it.

Failure can teach teens great lessons and prepare them for the real world.

Other Tips:

Other tips on how to motivate your teenager:

  • Compliment them
  • Talk to your teens
  • Provide incentives

Other Resources:

Is paying students to learn a good idea? The response to this question may surprise you!

Pay for Grades?

Check this article out for reasons as to why letting your child fail now sets them up for a better future.

Let them Fail


About Shannon Hutchins

Hey! Shannon is a customer service representative, a social media team member and blogger for The Knowledge Roundtable. Shannon came to the company late in 2014 and holds a BA in Media Studies from Colby-Sawyer College. While Shannon was completing her degree she wrote for, and eventually became editor of her collegiate newspaper, The Courier. For The Courier she mainly wrote about breaking college news as well as about local sports teams. She is a former tutor herself who believes in the advancement of knowledge for all and is studying to take the LSAT’s in hopes of going on and obtaining her JD.

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