5 Practical Tips to Motivating the Unmotivated Teenager
Are you a parent or teacher with an intelligent, but unmotivated, teenager that you want to inspire? Do you want to find out how you can motivate them and help them achieve their true potential?
If you do, then this article will show you 5 practical tips that can apply to almost any normal teen!
Before we begin, let us first take into consideration how teenagers usually think. The most common mistake adults often make is assume that teens think the same way they do. You need to keep in mind that adolescents typically have different priorities and points-of-view to everyday scenarios compared to adults.
For instance, while teens are different from each other, most of them often make impulsive decisions and the reason is that their prefrontal cortex (the brain’s center for insight and decision-making) is still in the process of development. Another issue that teens often struggle with is social anxiety. Situations such as being embarrassed in front of class can cause a lot of stress to them, and again this may be due to a still-developing prefrontal cortex.
Besides biological factors, the way teens think are also highly influenced by environmental and social factors, both of which parents and teachers play a big part. Therefore, if you want to help your teenager develop strong decision-making and social skills, motivate them in ways that directly appeal to their priorities and way of thinking.
Now, without further ado here are 5 tips to help you achieve that:
Tip #1: Spend more quality time with them.
Common sense dictates that you cannot gain someone’s trust unless you allow him or her to get to know you better, right? Teenagers are definitely not an exception to this, so it is always a good idea to spend some time with them and create a special bond.
While spending time with your teen, make sure to get rid of any distractions by scheduling it at a time when you are not expecting anything important from work. That said, you should ideally put your phone on silent mode. Expect your teen to keep using his or her phone during your time together, and try not to call it out if you cannot do so gently. In time, your teen will notice you not using your phone and try to minimize using theirs as well.
Be it a simple dinner night out a fun little movie date, spending quality time with your teen will help make it easier for him or her to value the wisdom you will share.
Tip #2: Use Socratic Questioning to help them become critical thinkers.
A teenager can be pretty reasonable when you treat him or her as an equal, rather than someone who should do as you say because “you say so.” In fact, teens often have a strong inclination to prove themselves capable of thinking maturely. Give them the opportunity to think for themselves by explaining what they can get out of something if they become more motivated to do it.
The key to doing this effectively is to not make it sound like a command. Instead, lead them towards their own conclusions by asking them questions using the Socratic Method. This is a method of questioning that allows the learner to examine their own ideas until they come up with the most valid conclusions.
For example, if an unmotivated teen tells you that he or she does not want to study every night anymore, do not retaliate negatively. On the contrary, lend him or her your ear right after you ask them, “Why not?”
They can come up with their own excuses, but as you listen, you can continue to ask them questions such as, “Alright, but do you think there is a better way to remember your history lessons other than studying them?” and “Is it possible to remember all those facts without reading them again at night?”
Through Socratic questioning, your teen will have a better chance of realizing the value of doing what is right over what is easy. Whether or not he or she will admit it to you, the chances that he or she will be able to draw this conclusion are much higher than if you were to just scold him or her about the problem.
Tip #3: Collaborate, do not command.
Barking commands at teens will either turn them into meek, blind followers, or notorious rebels. Therefore, if you want your teen to naturally develop skills that will enable him or her to become a good leader and team player, then the best thing you can do is to simulate such an environment. You can achieve this by letting your teen have a say before he or she is appointed to do anything.
For instance, if you want to motivate your teen to study, ask him or her when the best time-frame will be to do so, rather than telling him or her to “study from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.” or so on.
Make your teen feel like he or she is part of a team whenever possible. By doing so, he or she will appreciate your effort and will be more likely to compromise as well as agree to reasonable terms.
Tip #4: Let them know they are responsible.
While giving words of encouragement and praise is essential to motivating a teen to do well, not making them take responsibility for their own actions can do the exact opposite. Some adults, unfortunately, are not aware of this, and end up making up excuses for the bad behavior their teen commits. This will only give the teen the idea that they can get away, which can lead to terrible consequences, especially when they become adults.
You can prevent this by letting your teen know that he is responsible for the choices they make in life.
One way to do that is to help your teen set his or her own goals and then provide them with advice on how they can best achieve them. Teach them the “SMART” goal development strategy, or how to create Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound goals. You can research on that and share it with your teen.
Tip #5: Be a great role model to them.
Try to think back to the time when you yourself were a teen and admired someone famous or successful. Based on that experience, you can easily agree that most teens often seek a role model to admire and seek to emulate, such as a professional athlete or a big celebrity. Whoever it is they admire, rest assured it is part of their way of finding direction in this world.
You, as an adult whom your teen can see and talk to every day, are one of the biggest role models to them. In other words, whatever behavior you exhibit to your teen will most likely be mirrored by them. So, take this as an opportunity to show the qualities that they would admire and that you would want them to develop, be it kindness, compassion, strength, intelligence, loyalty, diligence, or a little bit of everything.
Hopefully at least one of them will help you motivate your teenager to believe in him or herself and to develop a more positive attitude.