Parents dealing with unmotivated teenagers should remember that by arguing or screaming, they are only making matters worse.
Child therapist James Lehman says, “[W]hen you’re interacting with a kid who appears unmotivated, remember that screaming, bargaining and doing things for him will not work. When you’re looking at this child, you have to remember, he is motivated. He’s just motivated to do something different than what you want him to do. He’s motivated to resist you.” (1)
In order to improve things, parents must understand what is at the core of the power struggle. And arguing won’t help you do that. In fact, “the more power you put into it, the stronger his resistance gets. We don’t argue with kids because when we argue with them, we give them power. Focus on making that behavior powerless and give the consequences that you can give so that there’s accountability.” (2)
Rather than fight with unmotivated teenagers, parents should sometimes step back and let the chips fall where they will. “It can help to let the child experience the natural consequences of resistance. You don’t let the kid watch TV. You say, ‘Homework time is from six to eight. And if you don’t want do your homework in that time, that’s fine. But you can’t go on the computer, you can’t play games and you can’t watch TV. If you choose in that time period not to do your homework, that’ll be your choice. And if you fail, that’ll be your choice.’” (3)
Another tool for the parenting toolbox is to help kids understand why they are being taught something. Give them a roadmap and help them “see the big picture. Regularly offer explanations for how what is being learned ties into other things of value … Whatever they’re studying, make sure they can answer these questions: Why am I learning this? How is it relevant to the world I live in now?’” (4)
Parents following these steps will assuredly have success motivating their unmotivated teenagers.
For more information, please visit:
- Lehman, James, MSW. “Motivating the Unmotivated Child.” Empowering Parents. 2011. Retr. 15 Mar. 2012 <http://www.empoweringparents.com/child-motivation.php>
- “Inspiring Unmotivated Kids: What to Do, and What to Not Do.” Passing the Baton.org. 2010. Retr. 15 Mar. 2012 <http://www.passingthebaton.org/news/159-inspiring-unmotivated-kids-what-to-do-and-what-to-not-do-.html>