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How to Motivate Unmotivated Teenagers

by Tiffany Raiford

It’s not uncommon for your teen to want to sleep late, lounge on the couch, play video games or be lazy. It’s not even a problem for the most part, because everyone deserves a break -- a chance to relax and do absolutely nothing while enjoying every second of it. However, when this is all your teen wants to do, it becomes a bit of a problem. An unmotivated teen isn’t easy to deal with, which is especially problematic when it comes to his school work and future. Because he may not understand the importance of motivation, it’s your job to light a fire beneath him so that his future will be brighter.

Pay attention to your teen. Just because she’s a teenager doesn’t mean that she doesn’t need the same level of attention she needed as a child. Your teen needs you to pay attention to her homework, her studying and her future just as much now as she did when she was learning to read and write. Your attention helps to motivate her to perform well in school and in other aspects of her life.

Motivate him yourself. According to Carl Pickhardt Ph.D., an Austin-based psychologist, if your teen isn’t motivated, you need to create motivation for him. For example, if his grades aren’t very good and you want him more motivated to bring them up, take him on a college campus tour. Let him visit the campuses, take him to the frat houses, show him around the towns and let him meet some of the current students. Ask him what he thinks about the college campus life and when he tells you he can’t wait to go to that college, tell him it’s unfortunate that his grades aren’t good enough to gain him admission into that school. He may suddenly become very motivated to improve his grades once he sees firsthand what he’s missing out on by not doing his school work.

Stop making excuses for her bad behavior or bad grades. According to former drug addiction specialist with the Interagency Drug Abuse Recovery Program, Anne Messersmith, when you blame your teen’s lack of motivation on anything but her lack of motivation, you are enabling her to continue being unmotivated. For example, if you say that her bad grades are a result of her busy work schedule or her busy sports schedule or the fact that she’s stressed out, you’re not helping her motivate herself to succeed. All you are doing is giving her a valid reason to continue doing poorly.

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