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How to Get Your Teen to Do Something With Her Life

by Tiffany Raiford, studioD

Everyone needs a little motivation from time to time, especially your teenager. It’s not uncommon for your teen to seem unmotivated, undecided about college, undecided about her future and uncaring of it all. She may seem perfectly content to lie around the house listening to music or gossiping with her girlfriends over the phone. Before you start to worry that your teen isn’t going to do anything with her life, take a step back and think about what you can do to motivate your teen enough to do something with her life.

Recognize and praise your teen’s achievements in and out of school. If you want to convince her to do something with her life, recognize the good she is already doing, says Education.com. If you’ve been pressuring her to take up an extracurricular activity for a while, praise her for spending a few hours volunteering at the library or tutoring her peers. Even if she only did it for extra credit or to satisfy her high school’s volunteer requirements, hearing you praise her efforts is a great motivator, which may encourage her to pursue this activity.

Help your teen make some goals, advises KidsHealth. Sit her down and ask what she wants out of life. Write down what she tells you and then ask her what she thinks she needs to do to achieve those goals. If she wants to be a doctor, ask her what she can do now to help her achieve that goal. Sometimes all she needs is a gentle reminder that if she wants to be a doctor, she can get ahead of the game by volunteering at the hospital or by picking up a few medical journals to read during his free time.

Support your teen in her attempt to reach her goals. Even if she doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life when she grows up, she can do something with her life right now. You can support her by encouraging her to try new things. If she likes to write, surprise her by enrolling her in a creative writing class. If she likes to cook, surprise her with cooking classes. By supporting her hobbies and interests, you are helping her focus on her skills and desires, and potentially convincing her to take her love of a specific hobby to the next level and use it to do something with her life.

Encourage her to get a job. If she doesn't seem to want to do anything with her life at the moment, tell her it's time for her to get a part-time job, since she doesn't have anything else going on. At the very least, she'll get a job and learn the value of hard work or the decision that serving fries is not her idea of fun, which may motivate her to choose a career path.


  • Keep your expectations realistic, advises KidsHealth. If you want your teen to do something with her life, you cannot expect her to wake up one morning and suddenly become volunteer of the year at the nursing home or class president. You have to let her take it one step at a time and not become frustrated when she takes a day off to be a teenager who just wants to hang out in her pajamas watching movies with her friends.

About the Author

Tiffany Raiford has several years of experience writing freelance. Her writing focuses primarily on articles relating to parenting, pregnancy and travel. Raiford is a graduate of Saint Petersburg College in Florida.

Photo Credits

  • David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images