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Are you finding that your teen seems to be more motivated to accumulate likes and retweets on social media than A’s on their report card? Sounds like the typical teen, right? This behavior is very common among teens. The period of adolescence is full of change, evolution, and self-discovery. It is natural for adolescents to be a little reluctant to muster the motivation to adjust to a new and challenging learning environment.

So, how do you motivate your teen to do what you want them to do? How do you get your adolescent to be self-motivated and to think of their future?

You need to understand why your teen is lacking motivation and how you can play a more active role in preventing this occurrence.

Common Causes of Decreased Motivation

Change could be what is depleting your child’s motivation. The change in the social scene around middle school, and especially high school, is where adolescents start worrying about their social status. They wish to fit into an environment with clear cliques and hierarchies. It is common for kids who do well in school to become isolated and labeled “nerd.” During this time in their lives, young people don’t wish to be different. This may be a reason why they begin to withdraw from academics.

Difficulty in the school’s curriculum is another cause of why teens may underperform in the classroom. When the workload increases, as well as the workload’s difficulty, your teen could be so overwhelmed that he or she simply gives up. Your child may feel that they can’t meet expectations, so they cease trying. This is very prevalent among teens who have skill deficits due to learning or language deficiencies. On the other hand, the school’s curriculum andcourse load could prove not difficult enough to keep your student engaged. This is especially common among gifted teens who would rather spend their time doing their own learning of math, science, reading, and history instead of focusing on their school work. An adolescent could also be gifted in one certain subject, and thus they choose to spend their time on that one topic rather than the other subjects in their courseload.

How to Motivate Your Teen

One common method of motivation is external motivation. This is where a parent could use incentives to make their child do what they want. This could be in the form of rewards, such as eating out when your student receives good grades, or perhaps increasing your adolescent’s allowance when he or she is more helpful around the house. These can be effective methods of persuading your student to increase productivity, but the drawback is that once the rewards are removed, the proactive behavior may also dissipate.

Another incentive is to penalize, or punish, your teen for engaging in unwanted behaviors, such as taking away electronics with the arrival of failing grades, or grounding him or her for skipping class. This strategy could improve your teenager’s performance, but it could also cause you to ignore the issue behind the cause of the falling grades and lack of desire to attend class. Keep in mind that incentives tend to be more effective on younger adolescents versus high school students.

The most powerful form of motivation is internal motivation that occurs when the teen is motivated to accomplish tasks due to their ambition. 

How do you persuade your teen to share your motivations? 

The two main factors that contribute to internal motivation are related to these questions:

● What are my future goals and plans?

● How do certain factors contribute to my future goals and plans?

These factors require being able to visualize goals and understand the value of what is required to obtain said goals. This principle can be applied to either short-term and long-term goals. Perhaps you wish for your teen to complete more chores around the house. In this case, you need to communicate to your child the ultimate reason and purpose of a clean house and what must be done to achieve this goal, instead of saying, “Because I told you so,” which doesn’t provide a rationale for the request.

A long-term goal of your teenager could be to become an architect after college. In this case, take your student to a college that has a recognized program in architecture and discuss the academic standards that need to be accomplished to gain admission to the program. Your child may begin taking school work and remedial homework assignments more seriously if they understand the correlation between good grades and achieving a desired career. Adolescents need to understand the value of their action. They need to understand the purpose of the requests, and the consequences of not successfully completing the task 

Take Action Now

It is reasonable to let your adolescent take more responsibility for his or her education as maturity evolves, but if an issue in academic focus lingers, you may need to start taking a more active role in your child’s education. Be aware of the assignments and projects being assigned to your student. If the workload is overwhelming, help your teen find a suitable place to begin the work and then break up the work into manageable section. This will make the work seem more achievable. 

The best resource at your adolescent’s school is the teacher. Ask the teacher what the issues are with your student and the potential ways to address them. Taking an active role in your child’s education will ensure the necessary coursework and learning are accomplished.

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