I get asked this question at least once a week, “How do I motivate my teen?”
Is this you?
- Are you worried your teen won’t make pass?
- Perhaps your teen is isolating in their room to the point of not even engaging with friends and it really concerns you?
- Or does your teen stay online or playing video games till all hours and blows home and school responsibilities?
If this is you, you are not alone. Many teens are suffering from a malaise that steals their motivation and it can’t be blamed on the pandemic anymore. But to some degree, it may be a result of the fallout after the pandemic. Some teens didn’t bounce back when things returned to “normal.”
If you suspect a mental health issue, please seek a mental health professional. generally, however, that’s only a small percentage of the teen population and the majority of parents are left wondering what to do to engage their teens. In other words, you are not alone!
Here are a few tips that I shared with parent who attended my Brave Parent Mini Summit in our Facebook group.
1.) Make sure you know clearly what’s your problem and what’s your teen’s problem.
If you are concerned that your teen will miss the summer vacation because they won’t pass a class and will have to go to summer school, that could be your problem and you can ask, “What is your plan and how can I support you to pull that grade up?”
If, however, the grade doesn’t affect a future plan, you may want the natural consequences at school to play out. There’s nothing like real world experience to instruct teens.
2.) Use open ended questions and invitations by inquiry to engage your teen and assume their best response even if you’ve been rejected in the past. (Remember nonjudgmental tones invite engagement.)
“I notice you’re spending more time in your room and less time with your friends, is there something you want to talk about?”
“I notice you spending less time in the family room with your Dad and me. I miss you. Come hang out with us, we can try to get to the new level of the video game you like.”
Or use a simple request focused on the present with a suggested specific action.
“I understand you need your privacy as you are getting older, but right now, I really need help with bringing in the groceries. Will you please help me?”
Respecting your teen’s autonomy and communicating with open ended questions implies they are responsible for their thoughts, actions and feelings but communicates you want to support them and their budding ability to navigate their emotions and the world around them.
Remember a compliant teen that responds to our control tactics however well intended and guised, isn’t the goal. An authentic and growing teen finding their unique way in the world, is!