As parents we have all experienced this problem to one degree or another with our children. You know the drill, your teen never has any interest in or time for anything you ask them to do like their homework, cleaning their room or taking the trash out. It is really not a question of motivation, they have plenty of that. They are motivated to use their computers, play video games, watch television, talk on the phone, ride their skateboard or hang out with their friends. How do you motivate your teen to do the things they need to do and not just the things they want to do?How do I motivate my teen?
Make kids work for what they want. Out of love, many parents give their children too many things and then wonder why they fail to be appreciative - and instead just want more, more, and more without making any effort themselves. There is nothing wrong with letting your teen know they are going to have to work to earn the money for that new iPod upgrade they want. Let them learn the satisfaction that comes from benefiting from real work.
Be firm but loving. The first thing that is important to understand is insisting your child do something they don't want to do isn't unfair, it's actually benefiting them. "Our children will be happier as adults if we give them the tools they need, which include taking initiative, delaying gratification, and learning to follow through," says Harvard professor Dan Kindlon, author of "Too Much of a Good Thing".
Expect responsible behavior. We're not doing our children any favors when we let them out of chores or other responsibilities. The truth is children need to learn motivation and how to take responsibility for their actions, or they're at risk for depression and failure as adults. Once your child's responsibilities have been established, stick to your guns and be consistent in expressing your expectations.
Build your teen's self-esteem. Like many other behavioral problems, a contributing factor in lack of motivation can be the lack of self-esteem. For instance, if your child doesn't believe they are worth anything, they won't feel compelled to prepare for their future by working hard in school. Tackling the problem of low self-worth will go a long way toward motivating your child to do what they know will ultimately be best for them.
Follow though on consequences. Once again we come back to consequences. As adults we understand that for every decision we make in life, there are positive and/or negative consequences. In theory, we have learned to make decisions that will ultimately make us happy. It should be no different for your teen. Allow them the opportunity to learn this important lesson in life by enforcing reasonable consequences. This doesn't have to turn into a yelling match. Just be firm and consistent.
Get involved. For instance, if your child is having a problem with completing homework, take the time to sit down with them and go over their work. You don't want to do the work for them but you do want to make sure you understand where they are having problems and get them the resources they need. You don't have to stand over their shoulder the entire time. Give them enough time to accomplish the work and then check up with them when they are finished. This shows a sincere interest that your child may actually appreciate. There are also some opportunities to work along side of your child. Saying, "Let's get this done together" will likely be received much better than saying, "Go get that done". Besides, this creates a perfect opportunity to spend time with your teen and talk with them.
Sometimes, despite a parent's best effort, a child will simply refuse to cooperate. Once again, none of us can force our children to do anything. They have to learn to voluntarily comply with what will ultimately make them happy. There are some cases where parents cannot reach their children in order to motivate them to do this. In these cases, please don't give up. There are programs available with a proven record of helping teens to change their perspective and become successful. Please call us to learn how we can help.
The following are just a few sites that offer good information and resources for parents.