Tuesday Tips for Parents - Motivating Teens

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For many kids, the issue isn't their intelligence, it's their intrinsic motivation, according to Beth Larsen, a high school resource instructor. “Teenagers aren’t motivated by the same external rewards as younger children,” she explains. “The best motivation comes from inside.” Larsen believes that kids need to recognize their own potential in order to succeed. “You have to ask them what they want in life. What are their dreams? Help them reflect back to what their hopes and dreams were when they were children and go from there,” she says.

Teens need to clearly see their goals, whether it's graduating from high school, going to college, passing the next big test, making friends, or making the cut for a sports team of some kind. But kids who struggle with school cannot be expected to reach their goals alone. They need support from both parents, teachers, & friends. Below are six ways to motivate struggling teens to stay on task:

1. Pay Attention. Parents often assume that teens do not need the same amount of attention they received when they were younger. But nothing could be further from the truth. “The most motivated students,” says Larsen, “are those whose parents sit with them during homework, watch practices, attend competitions, and do not ignore problems until it’s too late.”

2. Communicate. Parents should be aware of what is going on at school, what assignments their children have been given, does the child have supportive friends, when is the practices for an activity. Larsen advises parents to communicate regularly with teachers, coaches, other parents about their child’s progress.

3. Don't Make Excuses. Sometimes parents enable their kid’s problems by laying the blame on that child’s disability or situation. Instead, parents ought to expect teens to be responsible for their own education/situations/practice times/etc, while keeping such expectations reasonable. Parents should also set the example for their kids - No double standards.

4. Recognize Achievements. For teens who struggle, even the slightest improvement is an achievement. Praise your child for his efforts. Receiving recognition for accomplishments is a great motivator.

5. Celebrate Strengths. “We all have different abilities,” says Larsen. “Parents can motivate their teens to succeed by focusing on their strengths and helping them improve on their weaknesses.”

6. Never Give Up. When high school students who face challenges, they can sometimes feel like throwing in the towel. But with the love and support of their parents, teachers, family & friends, even the most frustrated teen can set and meet goals. “It’s so much easier to give up - but don’t get discouraged. Stand your ground. The key, as Larsen reminds us, “is to never settle, but also don’t have crazy, unreachable goals.” In other words, set realistic goals and never stop helping your child attain them.

Laurisa Reyes

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