Supporting An Unmotivated Teen

Supporting an unmotivated teen is a difficult situation. It doesn’t matter how intelligent or how much potential your child has – sometimes, they get their priorities mixed up or simply just give up. They completely lose all motivation to pursue their academic careers and finish out strong. Instead of feeling frustrated and worried, understand what causes this adamant lack of motivation and how as a parent you can reenergize your teen to get back on a path to success. Which factors cause a lack of motivation?

  • Feeling overwhelmed by perceived expectations
  • Lack of proper support at home
  • Low expectations at school, or conversely exceedingly high expectations at school
  • Low self-esteem

How can you overcome these barriers and inspire a young person to get back in the game? Create a secure and nurturing home environment As a parent, you’re a role model to your children. They tend to follow your examples, so it’s necessary to lead them in the right direction. Show them that you value learning and that education is a worthwhile investment by exploiting your own successes and findings. Failure is okay Nowadays, teens have it berated into their minds that failure is not an option. It’s important to constantly reiterate the fact that failure is a normal, healthy part of the learning process. It’s a means of learning from your mistakes. Taking the fear of failure out of the equation will motivate your kid to take more chances and challenge themselves. Revisit their interests Sometimes, teens simply lose sight of their identity and interests. Revisit what is important and interesting to your child. Utilize these interests as motivating factors in their lives. Most likely they are empowered and passionate about certain things, so highlight their unique talents. Generally, a peak in interests makes us excited to learn more, so incorporate unique talents and interests into their academic careers. Use rewards sparingly Too often than not, parents rely on rewards to motivate their children. Dr. Allison Chase encourages you to use this tactic carefully. This could yield limited progress because often times, teens will associate motivation with compensation. This should not be the case. Instead, encourage intrinsic motivation instead. That is not to say that you can’t reward your teen here and there, just don’t let it be the sole motivating factor in their lives. Should you observe that the motivation does not improve or rather seems to get worse and you see signs of depression (i.e. low mood, less interest in daily activities, change in eating or sleeping behaviors, irritability etc). It is important to seek professional support to assess how to best manage your child’s mood and behaviors. *Dr. Allison Chase is a Licensed Psychologist in private practice in Austin, Texas. She works with children, adolescents, young adults and families specializing in mental health issues, eating disorders, parental training and education, and family or team-based therapy. 

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