The Secret of Getting My Teen Motivated

Dr sharon Furman-Lee

According to recent research, there are two kinds of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is dependent on something that is not related to your wishes and desires. For example, when I study for a test, I study hard because I want my parents to buy me a new cell phone or computer. Intrinsic motivation is what we want our teens to have – it means that you do something because it is your passion and desire regardless of any additional rewards. For example, my younger son decided that he wanted to join a soccer club during the pandemic. He wasn’t fit and needed to practice on his own in order to rise to the other players’ level. So, he started to eat healthy, woke up early every morning to exercise, ran on the treadmill, and worked on his skills in the backyard day. Eventually, he established himself as a significant team member with other kids two grades above him. This is what intrinsic motivation is all about: determination and the work ethic that comes from within.

So how can parents support teenagers’ motivation? We and they want to pursue good grades, hang out with positive people, and make good decisions. Here are a few tips to help you along your teenager’s journey.

1) Express your gratitude

If your child washed dishes? Say thank you. Repeat this gratitude every time he is helping at home. Always make him feel that his contribution matters to you and his environment. When a child/adolescent feels that he contributes, he desires to give more of himself.

External rewards

A desire to do something should not depend on an external factor, but to connect the desire to an important value such as – preserving the environment, caring for animals, helping the less fortunate, etc.

3) Focus on the positive

According to the positive psychology approach, when focusing on positive things, our brains release the neurotransmitter Dopamine which is associated with motivation, focus, and positivity. For example, if a girl’s room is messy and has no remedy, but her dresser is tidy, she should be complimented on the order of the dresser and not nagged at the cluttered room. Focusing on the positive will make her want to receive more compliments and understand that order and organization is a positive thing that is important to maintain.

4) Praise the qualities that are related to the boy’s doing

If a boy told me that he managed to overcome some challenging obstacle in a computer game, instead of focusing on a conversation that discusses how many hours he is spending on the computer, try to focus on complimenting him on his extraordinary skills: it’s because you are a child who perseveres, because you are very accurate, because you are smart, etc. When a child feels that his parents or teachers see him and recognize his qualities and talents, he becomes more motivated as he feels a stronger connection to his actions and the support of the surroundings.

5) Negative motivation – Shouting at the teen, threats, punishments, restrictions, abusive words – all these and more do not produce motivation, but eliminate it and in the long run, lower the child’s self-confidence very much. Avoid using negative motivation. It may work for the short term, but it doesn’t do the work. You might also create a different motivation that works to break down your relationship as well.

6) Helping tools

Children who feel that they don’t have the ability to do something as expected will prefer to avoid even trying it and they do not face the possibility of failure. Learning or social disabilities, emotional difficulties, hearing, poor eyesight, and/or more factors can prevent a child from believing in his abilities and avoiding action. Therefore, you should provide your child with the tools to cope and overcome the challenges he has through the appropriate workshops, treatments, and support.

7) Volunteering

Enable and encourage adolescents to volunteer in an area that interests them. Volunteering has far-reaching and very positive effects on adolescents and adults alike. It is better to expose them to various kinds of volunteering at a young age, so once they become teens, they can choose what they are passionate about and give back to society. Volunteering encourages positive discussions and makes people value what they have and do for others.

8) Independence

One of the main goals as parents or teachers is to provide adolescents with tools to become successful adults who can be independent and manage their own lives. Parents who recognize opportunities to give their teens the space to make their own choices prepare them to make good decisions in the future.

9) Embrace failures

Failing is a lesson for life. It teaches us for future actions. Encouraging children to try new things without fearing failing, motivates them to take risks and try things outside their comfort zones. Encourage your teen to ask questions and analyze his mistakes. Treat failures as tools that we need for better decision-making and actions. Repeat this process until your teen achieves the outcomes he wanted and encourage him to continue exploring new things all the time.

10) It’s not a piece of cake

Refrain from telling your child that something is a piece of cake and easy to do. If your teen tries hard and fails to do it, she will feel terrible failing something that others think is easy. If she succeeds in doing something that others see as an easy thing, it completely negates her success because it was easy anyway, so this is not an achievement. However, if your teen succeeds at something that she or others define as difficult, she will feel great as it will boost her self-confidence and create motivation for her to take on bigger and more difficult tasks. Moreover, teenagers like challenges and will feel a lot better knowing the truth about the task in front of them. The more complex the task is, the better satisfaction it will give your teen once she succeeds in it. At the same time, help them to ease the process so the challenge looks more achievable.

I would love to hear more about how parents around the world motivate their teenagers. If you are a parent of teens, please share your experience either in the comments or send me a private message.

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