Teenage angst can often manifest as:
- A lack of motivation
- No desire to plan for their future
- Not working hard enough
- Not taking responsibility for their lives
When you see the malaise draping over your teenage loved one, it’s easy to feel at a loss about what you can do to help them.
Despite their outward appearance, teenagers care about their potential, but parents often find it challenging to communicate and connect in meaningful ways with the younger generation. Often, a parent’s behavior will put the teenager in a position where they believe that results matter much more than the effort.
Teenagers need to understand that continuous growth is far more critical. Research has revealed that once teenagers grasp how vital the process is, they start to excel.
Here are seven strategies to help you motivate your teenager towards being the best that they can be.
1. Emphasize the Process Rather than Focus on the Outcome
Believing only in the outcome lowers a teenager’s self-esteem and hinders their growth. They may become not motivated and indifferent, and in extreme cases, it can lead to mental health issues later in life.
Learn to acknowledge the work your teenager is putting in. Doing this will motivate them to concentrate and focus on the things they can control for reaching their goals, namely their attitude and effort.
When teenagers feel like they have control, their enthusiasm will grow along with their motivation and focus.
2. Get Them Involved
Parents make all the decisions for their children from the moment they are born, and it can catch them by surprise when they notice their little boy or girl is all grown up.
It’s a difficult adjustment for a parent to make, but acknowledging a teenager’s maturity by asking them what they think will get them involved in the process.
You are also letting them know that their thoughts have value and their opinions count.
The age-old problem of getting teenagers to do homework comes to mind. The fall-back strategy for many parents is to nag, remove privileges, or threaten them with grounding.
Instead, ask them what it would take to get them to do their homework. Once teenagers feel like they have control, they are much more likely to knuckle down and get the work done.
3. Use Positive Dialogue When Talking about Your Teenager in Front of Them
Don’t let your frustrations about your teenager show in the language you use when talking about them.
For example, it’s alarming that quite a few parents will say the following where their teenagers can hear:
- My daughter lacks dedication.
- My son is lazy and won’t succeed
- My daughter has no ambition or desire to do anything with their life
The above phrases are always a direct result of a parent’s frustration with their teenager. However, it’s the wrong strategy because the negative comments you make to others about them where they can hear will make them sour and spiteful.
Teenagers have an uncanny way of gravitating towards being the type of people their parents say they are.
When you say they are useless or lazy, then that’s how they will behave.
Think about some good things your son or daughter has done and talk about them instead. When your comments are sincere and genuine, your teenager will strive to live up to your perception of them.
Use this strategy in moderation. If you use it at every opportunity, your teenager could see it as a purely manipulative tactic where your words have little meaning or value.
4. Show Your Love
Always show your love and appreciation for your teenager. If you only show them love when they do well, your teenager may get the impression that you will like them more if they do well and less when they fall short.
When teenagers slip into this mindset, their self-esteem can suffer because they think they need to earn love and acceptance. Your love needs to be unconditional and without conditions.
5. Let Them Know How Proud You Are of Them
Teenagers need to feel loved and accepted, but letting them know how proud you are of them will also boost their self-esteem and motivate them.
Sadly, many parents neglect to say this one simple thing that can profoundly affect a teenager’s confidence.
You may have heard teenagers complaining that no matter how much effort they put in, they never seem to be good enough.
Look for opportunities over the next few days to let your teenager know that you are proud of the person they have become.
It’s important to use this tip in moderation because you don’t want your teenager making decisions based on what they think you, or others, might feel about them.
Decisions should always come from a foundation of beliefs and values.
6. Let Them Deal with The Consequences of Their Choices
Most parents are guilty of resorting to nagging in an attempt to get their teenagers to do the right thing. The following phrases might be familiar:
- “Do your homework.”
- “Put your phone down and concentrate.”
- “Spend more time studying.”
- “Go to sleep earlier.”
- “Tidy your room.”
Most parents are guilty of the above at some point, so don’t feel like you are all alone.
However, ask any parent if the nagging achieved the intended outcome, and they will always tell you that “no, it didn’t.”
Teenagers subjected to nagging learn to ignore it, and some may even develop a rebellious streak.
Instead of nagging, let their actions run their course. Eventually, the teenager will have to confront the consequences, which is often the best teacher of what they can expect in the real world.
For instance, if your daughter leaves her project at home, don’t run after them to deliver it. Let them deal with the fallout.
They will learn their lesson and do better next time.
7. Never Tell a Teenager that You Know What’s Best For Them
Of course, your life experiences give you a reasonably good idea of how your teenager’s actions will play out if they continue but telling them will not have the desired effect.
You will only make your teenager feel like you are trying to run their life down to the smallest detail.
If teenagers feel like they are a puppet on strings, they will lose their motivation.
When major decisions need to be made, sit down with your teenager, and have a calm discussion about the issue.
Let them finish. Don’t interrupt and listen to what your teenager has to say. Too many parents will think about what they will say next regardless of what their teenager is telling them at the moment.
When teenagers see you making a genuine attempt to understand their perspective, they will be more motivated to respect your opinion and guidance.
Be patient, teenagers view life through a different lens than adults, so it can be challenging to understand their thought processes and behaviors.