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How to Motivate Teenagers to Want to Do Well in School

by Oubria Tronshaw, studioD

Most teens aren't motivated to do anything -- schoolwork included -- unless they see how their efforts will benefit them directly. If you want your teen to want to do well in school, she must have a reason that stems from her own desires -- otherwise she'll only be going through the motions. Pay close attention to your teen's interests and learning style; perhaps her disinterest doesn't come from what she's learning, but from how the information is presented.

Relate your teen’s success in school to the real world, advise experts with the Sylvan Learning website. Teens often want to shirk homework responsibility because it seems boring and arbitrary, and they lack a clear understanding of how doing it -- or not doing it -- will affect them in the long run. Have candid, supportive conversations with your teen about what kind of career she ultimately wants, and help her understand how doing well in school will help her achieve her goals. She might not need algebra to become a fashion designer, but she will need algebra to get her diploma, and her diploma to get into design school. Help her see how doing well in school fits into the big picture.

Offer positive reinforcement and reward based motivation, recommend the authors of "Positive Discipline for Teenagers" on the Positive Discipline website. Perhaps you can increase your teen’s allowance or buy her the latest gadget as a treat for maintaining a certain GPA, or you can extend her curfew in exchange for bringing her grades up in certain subjects. Motivate your teen by providing consistent, tangible rewards for her efforts, as well as encouragement and praise.

Ease up the pressure. Perhaps you want your child to do well in school because you know how important school is in the grand scheme of things, but if you try to force or punish her into getting good grades, you run the risk of making her want to avoid the subject of school -- or any kind of hard work, for that matter -- altogether. Instead of focusing so much on results, Psychology Today advises putting more emphasis on her efforts. Congratulate your teen’s successes, no matter how small. If she recognizes the value of trying, she’ll keep trying. But if you only emphasize the importance of achieving, she might become overwhelmed and give up.

Make completing schoolwork a fun, social activity for your teen. According to Sylvan Learning, teens often remember things better when they learn in a group. Encourage your teen to study with friends, so she’ll come to see homework as an enjoyable activity. Hopefully, she’ll be more inclined to keep it up on her own without any prodding from you.

About the Author

Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.

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