How To Effectively Motivate Your Teen

Posted on November 11th, 2015


Parents often struggle with finding ways to motivate their teen to be more productive. It may seem like all your child wants to do is sleep, text, play online games, etc. You might assume that your teen is just being lazy, but that would be a misguided conclusion. Here are some things to consider if it seems like you just can’t get your teen motivated.

1. Incentives

Teenagers can be quite passionate and motivated…when something that they value is involved. Compliance is much easier if the teen sees some inherent value in the task being asked of him or her. Try to think about things from your child’s perspective. For example, if maintaining a sharp appearance is important to him/her, then he/she might be more likely to understand the value of laundry duty. On the other hand, if they could care less whether the floor is clean, then you may find it challenging to convince them that they should be more on top of vacuuming or mopping.

However, not everything has obvious inherent incentives. Getting schoolwork done may be necessary for your teen to get into college and achieve their dream job, but it can be hard for him or her to look that far into the future. This is where creating external incentives can give your teen that extra boost. Is your teen asking for that latest piece of technology, or hoping to go out with his or her friends on the weekend? This would be a great opportunity for him or her to earn those things by completing schoolwork and/or preparing for tests.

2. Collaboration

Teenagers often dislike being told what to do. They may feel like rules and limits are put in place merely for their parents’ convenience. While this may not be true, this perception doesn’t help with motivation. Give your teen a say in what and how things are done, and allow him or her to be involved in setting the rules and limits. If he/she helps set the expectations, then he/she will be much more likely to follow through. Here are some examples of how to do that:

  • Have a discussion about what tasks they would prefer to perform
  • Agree on time frames or deadlines, and give them some freedom about how a task is completed as long as it meets agreed upon expectations
  • Provide choices. This gives teens a certain sense of control and promotes collaboration

3. Allow For Mistakes

Let your teen make mistakes and learn from them: in other words, don’t always rescue him or her. This can be a frightening concept for many parents, but it can really help teens develop more responsibility and preparedness for future challenges. It is important not to lecture your teen about his or her failures, but to be supportive and ask questions that will help him/her learn from missteps.

While the above points are important to keep in mind, don’t forget to provide a fun, loving and supportive environment. We are all much more motivated to accomplish things when surrounded by positive energy. Also, be creative when developing incentives. Material objects and/or money only go so far. Experiential and social activities can be much more impactful and sustainable over time.

* * * * * *

* * * * * *


Would you like additional guidance in this area? Los Gatos Teen Therapy provides individual teen therapy, family therapy, group therapy, parent support counseling, and in-home teen and family coaching 7 days a week, including afternoons, evenings, and weekends. For more information, contact us at 408.389.3538.