Keys to Motivating Kids & Teens

Discovering the key to motivating teenagers has been a struggle in every generation, no matter how positive or negative your relationship. When teens begin acting out and seemingly lose their focus and motivation, it often causes long term – and more complicated – issues down the line.

While many of our participants struggle with individual challenges of their own, there are several useful recommendations for teaching teens how to self-motivate and learn the benefits of doing so, not only for their mental and physical health in the short term, but further success as adults later on in life.

Build Short & Long-Term Goals

When it comes to motivating teenagers, most respond positively when it involves something they’re already interested in or perhaps haven’t yet considered as a possible interest. Sit down and talk with them about something they’d like to be better at, either now or later on in life, and support them on their journey to achieve that goal. Celebrate small successes and their individual strengths while offering to assist in improving their weaknesses along the way.

Allow for Reasonable Failures

It is unrealistic to expect perfection from your child; they need to know it’s okay to still make small and reasonable errors in judgment. That is not to say that you should enable bad behaviour but look at small failures – doing poorly on a test or momentarily lapsing back into an old habit – with a bit of perspective. Remind them, and yourself, of the bigger picture and help support them through their struggle to become who they want to become by reminding them of recent successes.

Define the Value of Their Actions

Telling your teen to complete a task because you said so or because it needs to be done isn’t always enough motivation for them to do it (or at least do it to your standards). Instead, talk with them to define the types of chores that have a clear benefit and immediate value such as doing the laundry so they have clean clothes to wear to school or boiling the pasta so they have something to eat that night.

Remind & Ask Questions

Instead of constantly verbally reminding them about school and personal tasks, write them down or add it into a calendar. By doing so, they are not only responsible for checking it and remembering to do so on their own, but have all the reminders they need to complete it on time. This limits unnecessary frustration and lecturing later on which may cause them to become overwhelmed and give up before they even begin at all.

To the same effect, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If they are having trouble keeping up with tasks or often fall behind with school work, ask them the right questions to understand why they might be avoiding homework instead of completing it early or at least on time, which would give them extra free time to enjoy later on.

Listen to Them

When you ask questions, you won’t always hear the answer you want to hear, and that’s okay. What is important is that you listen to their feelings and help them realise how they may overcome them through a change in their routine, thoughts toward certain responsibilities and their reactions to particular situations or individuals. Teens need just as much attention as children, and although they may tell you otherwise, your ability to listen without judgement is helpful and a great starting point for increasing their level of self-motivation.

While there is no one set way to motivate your teen, we hope this information helps and look forward to helping them increase their motivation levels during our Junior Leader Programs.

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