How can you motivate a teenager?
“I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.”
Recently we’ve hosted a couple of Ask Hal webinars, where you got the chance to send in your personal questions directly. Here’s one I didn’t get to answer during that time:
“Hal, how do you motivate your child or teach them self-motivation to be more productive? How do you teach responsibility—for school, chores, sports, internet and life—without nagging so much my teenaged 14-year-old boy just rebels?”
How many of us parents of teenagers have struggled with this one? (All of us). How many of us realize, however, that just by asking the question this way we’re already off on the wrong foot? Well, obviously, this mom did because midway through she changed from “how do I motivate?” to “how do I teach them self-motivation?”, and therein lies the whole difference.
See, one thing I’ve learned is the second we think it’s our job to motivate another person, especially our kid, we’re making life HARDER for them and ourselves. Even if we did find the perfectly attractive carrot, or the perfectly prodding stick, we’re still treating them like a donkey…and ending up shocked when they soon start acting like an ass.
Instead of trying to change his mind about school, chores, screen time, etc., begin changing your own MINDSET instead. Start with these truths:
—It is NOT your job to motivate your child—it’s his job to motivate himself. (And he already does for some things—get curious about what already motivates him: Why does he do anything at all?)
—It is NOT your job to work harder at choosing his life than he does—his problems are actually his problems.
—It IS your job to clearly outline what choices your child DOES have (which chores he does and when, whether he does his homework, the screen times and sites he has access to, the electives he takes, perhaps)
—It IS your job to clearly outline what choices your child does NOT have (whether he does chores at all, whether you check his grades every three weeks, when his phone and the Internet are NOT available, what consequences from you he receives for his choices)
Everything changes when you stop feeling responsible for your son, and start doing your responsibilities to him.
Peace begins with pause,